AlphaGo and the Clash of Civilizations

The game known as “Go” is the crown jewel of Chinese culture. A board game of simple rules but complex strategy, it is said to have been invented by the mythical Chinese ruler Yao; archaeological evidence and ancient texts suggest that the game has been around for at least 2,500 years. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in his book On China, even suggested that the grand strategy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party was based on Go. Popular in East Asia, the game’s top players are concentrated in China, South Korea, and Japan. But in early March, AlphaGo, a computer program developed by Google’s artificial intelligence research unit DeepMind, defeated a South Korean Go grandmaster. The historic match attracted wide attention in China, where AlphaGo’s victory has people marveling…


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