Like a great sportsperson who wants to retire while at the top of their game, Google’s AlphaGo has left the competitive Go scene. After beating the world’s best player of the Chinese board game for the third time, DeepMind announced that the match would be the AI's last.
Early last year, AlphaGo beat three-time European Go champion Fan Hui five games to zero. A couple of months later, the system took on one of the game’s all-time greats, Lee Se-dol. Many expected the AI to lose, but it came away with a 4-1 victory.
Last week, AlphaGo reached the top of the ladder, going head-to-head against the player ranked number one in the world - Ke Jie. In a three-part match at the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, the AI won every game.
Following the win, Google’s DeepMind unit co-founder and co-CEO Demis Hassabis said AlphaGo had played its last competitive game of Go as it had reached “the highest possible pinnacle for AlphaGo as a competitive program.”
“The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their considerable energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials,” Hassabis said. “If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable. We can’t wait to see what comes next.”
Before the team moves on from Go, it will publish a paper, due before the end of the year, revealing how it prepared AlphaGo’s software to take on the world’s greatest player. There’s also a teaching tool being developed, in collaboration with Ke Jie, that will show how the system would respond to certain situations while playing Go. It will give “all players and fans the opportunity to see the game through the lens of AlphaGo.”