Emerging Technologies

Have we hit a major artificial intelligence milestone?

Students play the board game "Go", known as "Weiqi" in Chinese, during a competition. Image: REUTERS/China Daily

Rosamond Hutt
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Emerging Technologies?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Artificial Intelligence is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Artificial Intelligence

Google’s computer program AlphaGo has defeated a top-ranked Go player in the first round of five historic matches – marking a significant achievement in the development of artificial intelligence.

AlphaGo’s victory over a human champion shows an artificial intelligence system has mastered the most complex game ever designed. The ancient Chinese board game is vastly more complicated than chess and is said to have more possible configurations than there are atoms in the Universe.

The battle between AlphaGo, developed by Google’s Deepmind unit, and South Korea’s Lee Se-dol was said by commentators to be close, with both sides making some mistakes.

Loading...

Game playing is an important way to measure AI advances, demonstrating that machines can outperform humans at intellectual tasks.

AlphaGo’s win follows in the footsteps of the legendary 1997 victory of IBM supercomputer Deep Blue over world chess champion Garry Kasparov. But Go, which relies heavily on players’ intuition to choose among vast numbers of board positions, is far more challenging for artificial intelligence than chess.

Speaking in the lead-up to the first match, Se-dol, who is currently ranked second in the world behind fellow South Korean Lee Chang-ho, said: “Having learned today how its algorithms narrow down possible choices, I have a feeling that AlphaGo can imitate human intuition to a certain degree.”

Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO of DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014, previously described “Go as the pinnacle of game AI research” and the “holy grail” of AI since Deep Blue beat Kasparov.

Experts had predicted it would take another decade for AI systems to beat professional Go players. But in January, the journal Nature reported that AlphaGo won a five-game match against European champion Fan Hui. Since then the computer program’s performance has steadily improved.

While DeepMind’s team built AlphaGo to learn in a more human-like way, it still needs much more practice than a human expert, millions of games rather than thousands.

Potential future uses of AI programs like AlphaGo could include improving smartphone assistants such as Apple’s Siri, medical diagnostics, and possibly even working with human scientists in research.

Have you read?

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Responsible AI: 6 steps businesses should take now

Prasad Sankaran

June 19, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum