WSJ: A mysterious character named “Master” has swept through China, defeating many of the world’s top players in the ancient strategy game of Go.
Master played with inhuman speed, barely pausing to think. With a wide-eyed cartoon fox as an avatar, Master made moves that seemed foolish but inevitably led to victory this week over the world’s reigning Go champion, Ke Jie of China. ...
Master revealed itself Wednesday as an updated version of AlphaGo, an artificial-intelligence program designed by the DeepMind unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
AlphaGo made history in March by beating South Korea’s top Go player in four of five games in Seoul. Now, under the guise of a friendly fox, it has defeated the world champion.
It was dramatic theater, and the latest sign that artificial intelligence is peerless in solving complex but defined problems. AI scientists predict computers will increasingly be able to search through thickets of alternatives to find patterns and solutions that elude the human mind.
Master’s arrival has shaken China’s human Go players.
“After humanity spent thousands of years improving our tactics, computers tell us that humans are completely wrong,” Mr. Ke, 19, wrote on Chinese social media platform Weibo after his defeat. “I would go as far as to say not a single human has touched the edge of the truth of Go.” ...
We are witness to the psychological shock of a species encountering, for the first time, an alien and superior intelligence.
This is different and more catastrophic for human intelligence that the triumph of computers over chess players not quite two decades ago. Computers beat humans by being better accountants than humans - they don't miss moves that humans do. In go, it seems, the computers have rejected our strategic thinking developed over millenia wholesale. Very possibly, Alphachess, if ever deployed, will do something similar for chess.