Human versus Artificial Intelligence | Alphago beats Fan Hui

Now, ever since the modern computer was invented, the question of human versus artificial intelligence has provided all kinds of challenges. Back in the 1990s IBM’s Deep Blue managed to beat the reigning chess champion Gary Kasparov. The latest battle saw a computer beating a professional player at Go, that’s a Chinese game that’s even more complex than chess and played by more than 40 million people around the world as our technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, explains.

Artificial Intelligence
Go Players

It’s two and a half thousand years old and the rules are simple, but Go is a game of huge complexity and no computer has come close to beating a human champion, until now. Fan Hui is the European Go champion. Five times in a row he played a computer programme called AlphaGo and lost.

Artificial Intelligence

Fan Hui
Fan Hui

The programme was developed by a British artificial intelligence company bought by Google two years ago. It’s creator, himself a Go player says the computer first studied the patterns that are repeated in games.

Demis Hassaris, CEO, Deepmind “After it’s learnt that, it’s got to a reasonable standard by looking at professionals in the game. It now plays itself, different versions of itself, million upon millions of times and each time gets incrementally, slightly better. It learns from its mistakes.”

Demis Hassaris
Demis Hassaris

As computers have advanced, they’ve taken on more and more complex games. In the 1950s they beat Noughts and Crosses, a game with 362,880 possible positions. In the 1990’s they cracked Chess, which has 9 million possible positions. But, Go offers complexity of a completely different scale. Here’s the figure for how many different position there can be in one game. 10 to the power of 171. That’s one and an awful lot of zeroes.

Among those trying to build artificial intelligence, beating Go is being seen as a key moment.

Professor Zoubin Ghahramani
Professor Zoubin Ghahramani

Professor Zoubin Ghahramani, University of Cambridge “There have been… teams from around the world, in universities and companies, all trying to solve this problem. This is being seen as a landmark for artificial intelligence research and it’s very impressive that they’ve managed to get the people and the resources to solve this.”

And the man who’s led this breakthrough, believes artificial intelligence will now have applications far beyond games.

Demis Hassaris “It’s going to yield some fabulous benefits for society… um… ultimately being applied the things like healthcare and science to assist human experts make breakthroughs more quickly in certain areas.”

There’s a lot of human brain-power employed developing the strategy to win at Go. Now computers have learned to do this, they can move on to even more complex tasks.

Credits

This was an item on the BBC News at Ten on 27th Jan 2016

Human versus Artificial Intelligence | Alphago beats Fan Hui

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