The Rise of Competitive AI: Changing the Face of Go

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Without a doubt, Go is considered to be one of the most complicated board games in the world, creating tense yet somewhat comforting competition between the very best Go players. It is a game that can take many years to be proficient, proving to have more complexity and depth than perhaps even chess. There are so many moves to make that first-timers might have trouble even comprehending what is going on. It can be different from many other board games where the goal is clear-cut.

That said, its complexity is both a blessing and a curse, as many of its top players have begun to retire due to the rise of the opponent that cannot be beaten – artificial intelligence. Those who have done their research will likely know all about the heavily documented spectacle of artificial intelligence slowly but surely gaining ground in chess, before AI managed to eventually outplay even the greatest chess grandmasters. In the case of Go, the depth is so imperceivable that some players feel like there is no point in trying against advanced AI.

A history of winning

Lee Se-Dol, a former world champion of the board game, claims he is no longer going to play professionals, as artificial intelligence has grown too challenging to overcome. Back in 2016 when he was considered the very best in the world, he ended up losing 4-1 when pit against AlphaGo, developed by DeepMind – a company owned by Google.

Considering how much of a feat it already was to defeat Lee Se-Dol in the game, the current iteration of AlphaGo, known as AlphaGo Zero, has put the former to shame by defeating it in 100 straight matches. Whereas Lee might have been able to hold his own against AI in the past, it was clear to him that it has become a dominating force in the competitive strategy landscape, stating in an interview that the board game was “an entity that could not be defeated.”

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The developmental prowess of DeepMind

The Google owned company has undoubtedly created incredible strides with AlphaGo Zero, though it is not their only achievement in the world of competitive strategy gaming. Not only has DeepMind made use of powerful AI for board games, but they have also used it for competitive video games, including Starcraft II. As of the moment, the game AI in Starcraft II is considered to be better than 99.8% of human players in the game.

Paving the road

While it might seem a bit disheartening that AI continues to steamroll much of the competition wherever it is developed, keep in mind that AI is also allowing the opportunity to see games like chess and Go in ways that even the very best has not seen before. It creates a rare and golden opportunity to elevate the game further, and there is no doubt that AI will continue to evolve the world of strategy gaming in the years to come.