Understanding the Google’s ‘Game of Go’

It is a great day indeed for artificial intelligence. In a trailblazing duel, a computing system engineered by the Google researchers finally managed to beat an individual champion at the ancient Eastern game of Go. This latest tech news is important because this means that we are entering a new age of robotics. On the other hand, it is easy to forget that this is also a great day for individuals at DeepMind who made this unique computing system.


AI, as you probably know, stands for artificial intelligence, a term coined in 1955, by an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist, John McCarthy. AI is any intelligence exhibited by the machines. Long before the modern, digital age we are familiar with today, McCarthy speculated about the machines that could someday become conscious, with a mind and a belief of their own. Well, it seems that some of the things he talked about are one step closer to reality.

game of go

Intelligence, by definition, can include one’s ability for communication, logic, abstract thought, problem-solving, emotional response, memory, and knowledge. Making a machine with such properties has always been, and probably always will be, the single greatest challenge for computer scientists.

AlphaGo Engineers at DeepMind (program for AI in London, England, integrated by Google) created a program called AlphaGo that can learn by using sophisticated algorithms, and, therefore, beat Europe’s champion in a game of Go 5 games in a row.

AlphaGo uses methods of teaching called “deep learning’’. This means that system can play the game of Go on its own, without the interference of people who design it. By doing so, AlphaGo responded to its environment and reacted to its surroundings in a similar way a human being would react.

‘’Deep learning’’ is not an entirely new concept. It is a form of artificial intelligence used by Google, Microsoft and Facebook to recognize patterns of speech or image recognition, and it’s been around for a while.

Game of Go

Game of Go is an abstract game for two players, in which the goal is to occupy more ground on the board than the adversary. It is one of the oldest and hardest games in the history of games.

So, why is it so important that a single machine can beat a human being in a game of Go?

Especially since we now know that AlphaGo can process a much larger quantity of information than any human possibly can? Why is this a world news? It is important because of the nature of the game itself. The game of Go is, at least, ten times more complicated that, let’s say, chess. Number or possible moves and positions at any given moment on a Go board is so immense that it can hardly be considered as a number. It would take me five lines just to write down that number.

Humans who are good at playing this game are incredibly smart and intuitive. Replicating their way of thinking in a series of algorithms, and making those algorithms a part of a computing machine is extremely challenging and hard to accomplish. In a way, we can now argue that AlphaGo solved the game of Go. And, this is what makes us humans perhaps more than anything else: being able to solve problems.

What does this mean for the industry of robotics and humankind?

The success of AlphaGo is somewhat bittersweet. Yes, it is a triumph or human creativity, knowledge and vision. It is an equivalent of climbing Mount Everest without an oxygen mask, but it also means that we are very close to being entirely dependent on computing machines.

  • Being able to make AlphaGo means the birth of the new technologies, especially in a field of robotics. It can even mean that in a near future we will have an intelligent machine which can solve the biggest problems that face our society.
  • It is a birth of an AI with a complex web of so-called dark neural networks. This new type of artificial intelligence can think like a human being.

Who knows, maybe next time when AlphaGo beats a human being in a board game, it will be able to learn how to feel and rejoice.




Author Bio


Meighan Sembrano has done her Mass Communication degree. In her free time, she likes to write about health, lifestyle fitness, world news, and beauty. She is an author at Consumer Health Digest since 2012. To know more about her, follow her on Twitter, Pinterest.

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