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Google DeepMind is edging towards a 3-0 victory against world Go champion Ke Jie (GOOG)


David Silver

Google DeepMind has won its second game against world Go champion Ke Jie in China, winning the series and putting it one step closer to a 3-0 victory.

The company's self-learning AlphaGo AI agent is playing 19-year-old Ke Jie at the "Future of Go Summit" near Shanghai this week in a three-game match.

The win against Ke Jie — who has been playing Go since the age of 5 — puts AlphaGo just one victory away from a 3-o win.

"#AlphaGo wins game 2," wrote Google DeepMind cofounder and CEO Demis Hassabis on Twitter. "What an amazing and complex game! Ke Jie pushed AlphaGo right to the limit."

AlphaGo won the first game by half a point on Tuesday, which is the closest margin possible in Go — a two-player board game that originated in China around 3,000 years ago. The game simple, yet complex game has been incredibly difficult for computers to crack due to the sheer number of moves possible.

Dave Silver, lead researcher for AlphaGo at DeepMind, explained how DeepMind had estimated Ke Jie's impressive play. "We can always ask AlphaGo how well it thinks it’s doing during the game," he said in a statement. "And when we asked today, AlphaGo thought it was perfectly balanced. If anything, AlphaGo thought Ke Jie had come out better in the opening. It was only towards the end of the game that AlphaGo thought it would win."

Ke Jie DeepMind

The games are being streamed live on YouTube but the millions of Go fans in China are unable to watch them without a VPN [virtual private network] because the Google-owned service is banned in China. The Chinese government also issued a censorship notice to broadcasters and online publishers, warning them not to livestream the first game, according to China Digital Times.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that DeepMind's trip to China is part of a wider Google "charm offensive" in the communist-run country.

DeepMind writes on its website that it hopes to uncover more secrets of the ancient game at the "Future of Go Summit," where it'll also be playing different versions of Go. The company is also visiting a number of Chinese companies and research institutes to talk about AI research.

AlphaGo beat its first world champion last March, when it defeated South Korea's Lee Sedol in a five-game tournament.

Demis Ke Jie and Eric Schmidt

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