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Google's AlphaGo to compete against top Chinese Go player

Ke Jie, the world's top Go player, speaks at a press conference in Beijing on April 10, 2017. Photo: China Daily

China Ke Jie, the world’s No. 1 Go player, is to take on Google’s AlphaGo computer program next month in southern China's Wuzhen.

Ke who became the youngest champion in Go history to win three world titles between January 2015 and January 2016 is to play against the AlphaGo program in a three-game match during the Future of Go Summit from May 23 to 27, the Chinese Go Association announced on Monday.

Each player will have three hours in each of the three games and the winner will be awarded 1.5 million U.S. dollars while the losing side takes 300,000 dollars.

Just over a year ago, Google made headlines around the world when AlphaGo beat South Korean champion Lee Se-dol in a historic five-round match, overturning the long existing fact that machine can't beat professional Go players due to the game's notorious complexity.

According to a list published by Go Ratings in January, Ke is the world’s No. 1 player with 3,627 points followed by AlaphGo on 3,599 points, while Lee ranks No. 7 with 3,522 points.

The 19-year-old Ke, a native of Lishui in east China’s Zhejiang Province, has been playing professionally since the age of 10 and has beaten Lee several times in recent years.

The summit, organized by Google, the China Go Association and Zhejiang’s sports bureau, will include a forum on the future development of artificial intelligence.

Ke said he was honored to be chosen to represent the human world against the computer program. At a news conference in Beijing yesterday, he said he believed AI could be a power for good in people’s lives.

In the May showdown at the popular tourist destination in Zhejiang province, Ke will face a stronger AlphaGo than a year ago as the program, developed by DeepMind, boasts of a deep learning capability to learn for itself and discover new strategies by playing games against itself and adjusting neural networks based on a trial-and-error process known as reinforcement learning.

The new version of AlphaGo already demonstrated its improved strength as it recorded a 60-0 result in blitz games against a number of top Go players on two online Go game sites under the ID names "Magister" and "Master" in early 2017.

Go, known as Weiqi in China and Baduk in South Korea, originated from China thousands of years ago. It involves two players who take turns putting white and black stones on a grid of 19 lines by 19 lines. One can win an opponent when gaining more territory on the grid. One can remove stones of the opponent by surrounding the pieces.

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