Chinese AI team plans to challenge Google’s AlphaGo at board game

The world's top Go player Lee Sedol (R) puts his first stone during the last match of the Google DeepMind Challenge Match against Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo in Seoul, South Korea, in this handout picture provided by Google and released by Yonhap on March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Google/Yonhap

BEIJING (By Paul Carsten, Reuters) – A team from China plans to challenge Google’s AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence (AI) program that beat a world-class player in the ancient board game Go, the state-owned Shanghai Securities News reported on Thursday.

Scientists from the China Computer Go team will issue a challenge to AlphaGo by the end of 2016, said attendees at an event in Beijing organized by the Chinese Go Association and the Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence, according to the report. It did not elaborate on the nature of the challenge.

The event was ‘The Forum for Understanding the AlphaGo War between Man and Machine and Chinese Artificial Intelligence’, Shanghai Securities News reported on its website.

AlphaGo, developed by Google subsidiary DeepMind, shocked audiences when it beat South Korean professional Go player Lee Sedol in Seoul earlier this month.

The program made history last year by becoming the first machine to beat a human pro player, but 33-year-old Lee, one of the world’s top players, was seen as a much more formidable opponent.

Go, most popular in countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, involves two contestants moving black and white stones across a square grid, aiming to seize the most territory.

Until AlphaGo’s victory last year, experts had not expected an artificial intelligence program to beat a human professional for at least a decade.

Also on Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited one of China’s top Go training schools, according to the China Daily.

A spokesman at Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, said Pichai was in China to develop his understanding of Go and of the country.

Chinese companies like Baidu Inc, the country’s nearest equivalent of Google, are also working on developing AI.

Baidu in 2014 hired former Google engineer Andrew Ng, who had helmed the U.S. search giant’s Google Brain AI efforts.


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