Why a computer beating a human at a board game is a milestone for artificial intelligence research

Researchers from Google DeepMind have developed the first computer able to defeat a human champion at the board game Go. But why has the online giant invested millions of dollars and some of the finest minds in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research to create a computer board game player? Go is not just any board game. It’s more than 2,000 years old and is played by more than 60m people across the world – including a thousand professionals. Creating a superhuman computer Go player able to beat these top pros has been one of the most challenging targets of AI research for decades. The rules are deceptively simple: two players take turns to place white and black “stones” on an empty 19×19 board, each aiming to encircle the most territory. Yet…


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