Japanese AI falls to Grandmaster in Go match


TOKYO – Artificial intelligence program DeepZenGo lost a best-of-three match to Cho Chikun on Wednesday, but posted remarkable progress overall.

The AI ​​program, known as Zen for short, was developed by Japanese researchers specifically to play go, the traditional strategic board game. He lost the last game of the Tokyo match, his first without a handicap to a professional, despite a strong performance.

After losing the first game, Zen fought back to claim the second, with the player winning in each game using black – thus getting the first move. A fiery Cho shot black in Game 3. Neither team made it easy for their opponent, but the AI ​​made a series of mistakes and in the end developer Zen Hideki Kato quit after 167 moves.

Cho – who won a record 74 titles, as Japan’s leading go organization acknowledges – enjoyed the game. “The mistakes of AI,” as he put it, “helped make her appear human. Her strengths were pretty strong.” On the Zen side, Kato said the loss “highlighted areas where we need to improve. It was a useful experience.”

Zen, developed in cooperation with researchers at the University of Tokyo, used a “deep learning” method like that of AlphaGo, Google’s DeepMind AI that turned heads when it flipped Korean Grandmaster Lee Sedol in March. That same month, when Zen first faced a Japanese professional in a disabled match, he was still at an advanced amateur level.

In the months that followed, Zen studied past professional games and played against himself, absorbing and inventing strategy until he became a serious contender. Japanese pro Yuta Iyama was “surprised” at how quickly the AI ​​has progressed and said he “can’t wait to see how capable it becomes.”

“I would like human gamers and AI to strengthen each other,” said Nobuo Kawakami, president of entertainment software company Dwango, which supported the development of Zen and hosted the human versus AI event where Zen and Cho competed. “I hope we have a third game scheduled soon.” Kawakami’s goal is to end commercially available go-playing programs.


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