Go is an ancient board game that originates in China. It’s been played for over 4000 years. It’s easy to learn, but impossible to master and many have dedicated their lives to unlocking the 19×19 board. If you haven’t played it, you should. It’s great fun. It’s even been in a few popular films like Tron: Legacy and A Beautiful Mind.
Each player takes turns placing stones on a 19×19 board. Whoever captures the most space wins. There are a few other rules about capturing enemy stones and some jargon referring to various board positions, but the game’s premise is fairly simple.
There are 361 possible opening moves which leads to an incomprehensible amount of possible game positions. For comparison, there are fewer atoms in the universe than there are possible Go games. According to Sensei’s Library it’s about 2.082 x 10^170. That’s a 2 followed by 170 zeroes. Mind boggling.
With the stupendously large amount of possible moves, Go is pretty much the only game where a human could still consistently beat a computer on even terms. Computer AIs have beaten humans before, but only when they start with stones already on the board which creates an advantage before the game starts.
No longer. According to an article in Nature, a program developed by a tech company owned by Google has defeated European Go Master Fan Hui 5 games to 0. The program is called AlphaGo and it’s next challenge will be the best Go player in the world Lee Se Dol of South Korea.
Go is more than just a game. It’s a philosophy, but also way of thinking about data. AlphaGo has boundless applications in data analysis that could have an impact on our everyday lives. Read more on BuzzFeed.