AlphaGo and the Declining Advantage of Big Companies

Last week, machine learning took a big leap forward when Google’s AlphaGo, a machine algorithm, beat the world champion, Lee Sedol, in the game Go. An ancient Chinese board game that dates back nearly 3,000 years, Go is played on a 19-by-19 square grid, with each player trying capture the opponent’s territory. Unlike Western chess that has around 40 turns in a game, Go can go up to 200. The number of possible outcomes quickly compounds to a bewildering range of 10,761 — more than the total number of atoms in the entire observable universe. It was thought it would take at least another 10 years before a machine could beat a human in Go. What’s most remarkable is that AlphaGo turns out to be a machine that can improve…


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