AlphaGo, artificial intelligence software from Google that already beat one of the world's best human Go players, is set to take on another champion of the ancient Chinese game next month.
The software will play against several of China's best Go players, including current world champion Kie Jie, at a five-day tournament near Shanghai set to begin on May 23. The tournament comes a little more than a year after AlphaGo defeated the previous Go world champ Lee Sedol in Seoul, Korea.
The tournament will include three gameplay formats: in the first, teams composed of AlphaGo and one human player will compete against each other. Next, AlphaGo will take on a five-player team of China's best professional players. Finally, there will be a best-of-three series between the AI and Kie Jie.
The result of the final event could add yet another feather to AlphaGo's cap.
"Unless this Ke Jie is some magnitude better than Lee Se-dol, I would think they are confident of winning," artificial intelligence expert Calum Chace told the BBC.
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Go, a strategy game similar to chess, requires players to place black or white stones on a board and capture the opponent's pieces or surround empty spaces to build territories. It originated in China nearly 3,000 years ago, but it wasn't until 2014 that Google acquired the company behind AlphaGo, called DeepMind, and helped nurture it into a victory-seeking Go powerhouse.
Some players say that instead of threatening the game, AlphaGo is pushing human players to develop new creative strategies to compete.
"I believe players more or less have all been affected by Professor Alpha," world champion Zhou Ruiyang said in a statement. "AlphaGo's play makes us feel more free and no move is impossible to play anymore. Now everyone is trying to play in a style that hasn't been tried before."
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