/Rise of the machines: AlphaGo overtakes world’s No. 1 Go player Ke Jie in ranking

Rise of the machines: AlphaGo overtakes world’s No. 1 Go player Ke Jie in ranking

Google’s AlphaGo is beating the world’s former No. 1 player Ke Jie by four points in the latest global rankings of Go players, according to rankings published by GoRatings on Monday.

GoRatings is the internationally-recognized website deciding the rankings of international Go players, based on their accumulated points. Its latest rating shows that Google DeepMind AlphaGo ranks first with 3,612 points, a four-point advantage over Chinese Go player Ke Jie’s 3,608.

Screened from goratings.org
Screened from goratings.org

Go is an ancient Chinese strategy game, with simple rules but with a highly complex range of playing strategies. The defeat of a human Go champion by Google’s AlphaGo AI system is widely considered to be a milestone in the development of AI, similar to when IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Ke Jie boasted that he would not be beaten by AlphaGo, at the moment when the computer program was enjoying a 3-0 advantage in a competition against the Korean Go World champ Lee Sedol in March. Lee ended up losing 4-1.

Ke has not yet had the chance to directly measure his strength in a match against AlphaGo, which has nonetheless taken his place as the No.1 Go player.

Ke Jie (Photo from j.news.163.com)
Ke Jie (Photo from j.news.163.com)

The interesting thing is that AlphaGo would probably not have so many points if it had won that five-game match against Lee by 5-0, according to GoRatings’ rules.

On the other side of the story, Ke lost a few matches in a Go contest last weekend, which partially led AlphaGo’s overtaking him in the international point system. AlphaGo has not had a single match since its victory in March.

Ke will probably have play a match against AlphaGo within 2016, but Ke has more to worry about now. The third place on the list is Korean Go player Park Junghwan, who is only 19 points behind Ke.

No one knows if the AI behind AlphaGo will continue to defeat humans, and the AI behind AlphaGo is designed to play Go and nothing more. However, seeing the latest ranking, some people cannot help but ponder: what if AlphaGo has lost that single game against Lee Sedol on purpose?

(Top photo from pixabay.com)