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Classic Games (Games) Supercomputing

Computer Beats Go Champion 149

Koreantoast writes: Go (weiqi), the ancient Chinese board game, has long been held up as one of the more difficult, unconquered challenges facing AI scientists... until now. Google DeepMind researchers, led by David Silver and Demis Hassabis, developed a new algorithm called AlphaGo, enabling the computer to soundly defeat European Go champion Fan Hui in back-to-back games, five to zero. Played on a 19x19 board, Go players have more than 300 possible moves per turn to consider, creating a huge number of potential scenarios and a tremendous computational challenge. All is not lost for humanity yet: DeepMind is scheduled to face off in March with Lee Sedol, considered one of the best Go players in recent history, in a match compared to the Kasparov-Deep Blue duels of previous decades.
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Computer Beats Go Champion

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  • When I first read the headline, I pictured a robot's arms flailing about, whacking its human competitor upside the noggin. "So, A.I. finally got the emotion thing down."

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Here is a relevant Gaston Lagaffe comic : http://a407.idata.over-blog.co... [over-blog.com]
      It is in French so here is an approximate translation
      1.
      - What is this strange thing Gaston??!?
      - Wonderful isn't it! I bought it in a flea market, it is an automaton that plays chess!!
      2.
      - I am curious to see this!!
      - It is very strong said the seller...
      3.
      - I played! what will the champion do?
      - It seems like it always win!
      5.
      - You see, you see!!

    • by jbengt ( 874751 )
      When I first read it, I thought "What is 'Computer Beats', exactly, and what did it do to go 'Champion'?"
  • This isn't AI. Neither is Siri. So you AI nutters need to just relax. There is no such thing as AI currently.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Come on, Siri would be quite impressive if you showed it to a researcher from the 1950's. Same with the IBM chess win. Our expectations have simply increased and/or it "looks simple" after you see how its done.

      • The point is to program a computer that thinks like a computer. The expectation is that once we discover AI, we will understand how humans think. There is a name for this: strong AI.

        The first computers were very cool, and could calculate faster than people. We have a name for things that are cool, and do intellectual tasks faster than humans: it's weak AI.

        In this case, the computer is still using the MonteCarlo approach to finding a move.....which is roughly "choose a bunch of moves at random and choos
        • by Anguirel ( 58085 )

          In this case, the computer is still using the MonteCarlo approach to finding a move.....which is roughly "choose a bunch of moves at random and choose the best one." It's one way to prune the tree, and it is surprisingly effective in the case of Go. But it's not how humans think.

          We don't know that. It certainly isn't how players usually characterize what they consciously do. However, it is certainly possible dozens or even hundreds of possible arbitrary moves are tested and discarded unconsciously, and a few "good" moves, selected by various heuristics such as studied joseki, are bubbled up for conscious consideration. We only ever hear about the conscious portion, and even then it's jumbled. It's hard to know what's getting them to that point, and once past it even good players ca

        • To paraphrase Dijkstra, would you consider "strong swimming", i.e., swim like a fish, to be a requirement for understanding how to navigate an artifact under water? And is a submarine merely a "weak swimmer", even though it outperforms all known types of fish in speed?
          • To respond to Dijkstra, some people are interested in the question of whether computers can think, even if he isn't.
    • Re:Not AI (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PacoSuarez ( 530275 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @08:46PM (#51385635)

      There is a name for this "not AI" comment: The AI effect. Basically, whatever can be done with a machine is automatically considered "not AI", because it's no longer magical, just engineering.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • Nope. It isn't AI. Chess playing computers aren't AI either. Neither is Siri. It isn't magic either, just engineering.
      • I have some involvement in this field and I can't think of a single time I've seen the term AI in a book or research paper. The only time I ever see anyone use it is in the media or various futurists. Usually people just name their specific subfield or name the types or algorithms in which they specialize. "I specialize in unstable learners" or "I specialize in transfer learning" but I've never heard someone say "I specialize in AI."

        I think naming neural networks as they did was probably a very bad idea.
      • It's not AI like you see threatening the world in movies. No one has ever made a general artificial intelligence, and this particular example does not bring us any closer to it. It is, however, one more thing that computers shall forever be better than humans at.

      • That's because AI has a real definition: "computers that think like humans."
        If you use a trick to solve the problem, then good job, but it's not AI.
        • That's because AI has a real definition: "computers that think like humans."

          I dispute that. What a computer that definitely thinks, but not like a human? What if we could develop a computer that thought like a dolphin? Would that not be AI?

          • What if we could develop a computer that thought like a dolphin? Would that not be AI?

            That would be cool, too.
            Right now humans and dolphins are closer to each other than computers.

        • That's because AI has a real definition: "computers that think like humans." If you use a trick to solve the problem, then good job, but it's not AI.

          Except that it is beginning to look like human intelligence is also just 'tricks'. Your brain takes short-cuts, makes assumptions, 'fills things in' both perceptually and conceptually, and forms a consciousness that is largely made up from evolutionary history and previous memories. Yes, it's wet and it evolved, but it's just a bundle of ad hoc solutions that combine to form your mind.

    • "There is no such thing as AI currently."

      The fact that it's currently pretty stupid doesn't make it Artificial Intelligence any less.

    • by Bongo ( 13261 )

      As someone put it, a real AI would spend much of its time wondering whether to kill itself.

      Ex Machina was quite nice actually, for the whole question of how to test whether a thing is sentient.

      But I'd guess that the "brain-machine" is what produces/structures any phenomena/data, like being able to recognise a tree amongst all the patterns of colour, or the right moves in a game, whereas sentience is that which experiences that data — so artificial intelligence can be any clever data processing, suffic

  • Evaluating every board combination to search-tree depth isn't intelligence. If anything, its a parlor trick that shows that a system with *absolutely no intelligence of its own whatsoever* can be designed to play a game with sufficient apparent skill that it can beat a human player.

    When you are evaluating so many orders of magnitude more board combinations than a human could ever hope to, it seems inevitable that at some point, you will eventually find a tipping point that overwhelms human capacity to d

    • This doesn't brute force the board combinations completely; they used a Monte Carlo algorithm and a neural net to intelligently limit potential moves. Chess is brute forced; this is not.
      • Chess is brute forced; this is not.

        Oddly enough, I'm currently in an AI class and brought up Go just yesterday... The improved algorithm and neural net is one thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if they still tossed more computing power at it than Deep Blue.

    • So intelligence is 'doing things the way humans do'? There can't be any other type of intelligence?

      If a problem requires intelligence to solve, then any solution to that problem on a computer is artificial intelligence regardless of what 'parlour tricks' are used. And yeah, humans are really good at pattern recognition while computers are really good at arithmetic so I would expect artificial intelligence to differ significantly from human intelligence.

      PS: This AI evaluates significantly fewer moves than

      • This isn't AI. And yes, AI means human style of intelligence. This is just a algorithm and some clever programming.
        • The most a computer will ever be is an algorithm with some clever programming. Are you saying that AI is impossible.

          Take go for example. Let's say hypothetically that I develop this mega-awesome heuristic for evaluating go positions. So good that without search (1 ply) I can play a mean game. That heuristic evaluation function is either: me encoding knowledge about how to play the game into programming or it is 'learned' through random manipulation of data on a computer which is rewarded when it wins ga

          • by Kjella ( 173770 )

            The most a computer will ever be is an algorithm with some clever programming. Are you saying that AI is impossible.

            It all depends how meta you want to go, I would say that as a minimum an AI should be able to come up with its own algorithms and solution strategy. Like if you hand it a book of chess rules it should be able to work out by itself that an opening book is useful, maybe an end-game database, maybe some brute force search, some positional analysis, monte carlo searches, neural nets, whatever. Not just finding the right parameters/weights or crunching through someone else's algorithm, it has to be able to funda

            • Like if you hand it a book of chess rules it should be able to work out by itself that an opening book is useful, maybe an end-game database, maybe some brute force search, some positional analysis, monte carlo searches, neural nets, whatever.

              Did you figure these things out on your own, or read them somewhere, or someone told you?

              For anyone who wants to enjoy playing chess, I don't think memorizing a book full of openings is going to be "obvious."

        • So, if someone creates an "AI" that has intelligence different to human intelligence ... it wouldn't be AI?

          I've never seen a discussion of AI that REQUIRED them to mimic humans. In fact, the unintelligent neural network approach to antenna design (artificial, with NO implication of intelligent search for a solution) produces designs explicable to physics, which work (your cell phone may well rely on one), but no-one knows how they get from this design to that. Their non-intelligence is different to human i

    • Figure out exactly how so few board combinations need to really be evaluated by people in order to play with high competency, and replicate *THAT*.

      Good luck with that. I mean, people have only been trying that for ...

      The first computer-Go programmer I met and played against was in 1984. He was trying to do that, on IIRC a BBC Micro with 128kb of RAM.

      I've been following the subject since then. Shockingly, you describe EXACTLY the process that most people have tried to implement. It was only about a decade

      • by mbkennel ( 97636 )
        | This is a huge advance, even if it is only optimising multiple moderate-depth playing engines.

        It isn't doing that.

        They trained some strong neural networks to first predict move probabilities from 30 million expert moves and positions. That was just the start. Then they used 'reinforcement learning' where they played games against itself and propagated back the final outcome (game won/lost) all the way through the net space to improve the learning to the correct outcome (game won vs lost) vs matching expe
        • OK. Sounds like son-of-deGroot. I always thought that his approach had some merit, even if he himself acted like ... well, "not a nice person" is being very polite about it.

          From the announcement's lack of associated bullshit, I take it that deGroot has been thoroughly walked past. Good. In the same way that he walked over other people's work after misappropriating it.

          Whichever way it works, it's an improvement to previous programmes. Unfortunately it remains computer-Go, so I'm unlikely to ever sit down a

  • Wake me when he beats Lee Sedol. There is a signficant difference in skill level between a European champion and someone like Lee Sedol.
    • This is worth waking up for. It wasn't long ago when Go programs couldn't beat most amateurs. They're improving fast.

      • Indeed. It's a great leap forward.

        I'll still prefer the click of stone on wood though. Computer Go just doesn't do it for me. If that means that a busy year is a half-dozen games ... well that still beats playing Go on the computer, even against a human.

  • what a name. like: Tiger Woods. sorry he got beat up. hope Computer is convicted.
  • Using well known and solid techniques along with vast computing power, Google has finally broken into the majors of Go. The next question is whether a home computer can run the neural network now that it's been trained;.. or do the CPU and RAM requirements still place this level of play into the corporate-only bracket.

    Once we can run our own purpose-designed expert systems on commodity hardware, that's when the social change AI will bring [youtube.com] will be nigh. Whether it's beneficial to everyone, to just the 1%, or

    • Using well known and solid techniques along with vast computing power, Google has finally broken into the majors of Go. The next question is whether a home computer can run the neural network now that it's been trained;.. or do the CPU and RAM requirements still place this level of play into the corporate-only bracket.

      You can easily run the neural network and the other parts of AlphaGo in a home computer, but you'll get worse performance than they do in one of their beefy machines (48 CPUs, 8 GPUs). They also have a cluster version (1202 CPUs, 176 GPUs), which is much stronger.

    • Using well known and solid techniques along with vast computing power, Google has finally broken into the majors of Go. The next question is whether a home computer can run the neural network now that it's been trained;.. or do the CPU and RAM requirements still place this level of play into the corporate-only bracket.

      The best computer Go programs of a decade ago were all requiring Beowulf clusters to run on. Every one of about 5 competing designs (with several implementations of each approach). You might b

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1) Trained a deep neural net to predict a human player's move. Correct predictions were 57% based off 30 million samples. The previous best was 44%.
    2) Create a second deep neural net to determine the value of a board, meaning if you're winning or losing.
    3) Use the two networks as the heuristics in a tree search.
    4) Let the computer play itself to get better (basic reinforcement learning).
    5) Have excellent hardware to run the tree search during a real game.

    This is all standard AI stuff. Here's a quote from

  • by shadowofwind ( 1209890 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @10:14PM (#51385955)

    I googled Fan Hui: one source says he's 8 dan amateur, another that he's 2 dan pro. That's only a little bit better than go programs have been for several years, and much weaker than the best professional players. If he's a top player in Europe, that mostly says that go isn't played at a very high level in Europe. I think that the progress that has been made on go software is really great, but the claim to have beat a 'go champion' seems a bit of a spin.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The player in question gained professional status when he was in china, which would put him at top 1000 in the world.

    • I googled Fan Hui: one source says he's 8 dan amateur, another that he's 2 dan pro.

      These two statements are not incompatible. 6 to 8 dan difference between amateurs and professionals sounds perfectly reasonable. They are on different scales.

      If he's a top player in Europe, that mostly says that go isn't played at a very high level in Europe.

      Yes. And tell us something we don't know?

      Almost every high-grade European player has had to travel to the Orient to improve, because they simply cannot get the oppositi

    • Is he better than rust, ruby, python, or c++?

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      I don't see the problem. The guy has won European tournaments in the last three year. He is not the world champion, but he is certainly no joke. Beating him shows significant improvement in the quality of the machine playing Go. And it certainly is an important step in getting asian players to accept to play against the machine.

    • Computers have beaten higher-ranked players (Catalin Taranu, 5-p) on the 9x9 board. Computer go is nowhere near computer chess where humans cannot stand a chance against the top engines like Komodo, which is rated over 3300 ELO.

      I cannot help but notice that Google are advertising their AI system, after IBM pushed Watson for years, and Microsoft have recently open-sourced their system:
      https://github.com/Microsoft/CNTK/ [github.com]

      I am curious though about the result against a 9-dan pro, and what will such a player say a

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @10:32PM (#51386023)

    let's play global thermonuclear war

  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @10:44PM (#51386059)

    If the computer could beat a 2-dan professional, then it's clearly even smarter than SHODAN!

  • Videos (Score:4, Informative)

    by WalksOnDirt ( 704461 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @11:28PM (#51386233)

    Videos [deepmind.com] are available.

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