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The battle of the AI's: Chinese team to challenge Google's AlphaGo in 'world's most complex' board game

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The battle of the AI's: Chinese team to challenge Google's AlphaGo in 'world's most complex' board game
China Computer Go team will issue challenge by the end of 2016
AlphaGo beat professional Go player Lee Sedol in Seoul earlier this month

A team from China plans to challenge Google's AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence (AI) programme that beat a world-class player in the ancient board game Go, the state-owned Shanghai Securities News reported on Thursday.

Scientists from the China Computer Go team will issue a challenge to AlphaGo by the end of 2016 said attendees at an event in Beijing organised by the Chinese Go Association and the Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence, according to the report.

It did not elaborate on the nature of the challenge.

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The event was 'The Forum for Understanding the AlphaGo War between Man and Machine and Chinese Artificial Intelligence', Shanghai Securities News reported on its website.

AlphaGo, developed by Google subsidiary DeepMind, shocked audiences when it beat South Korean professional Go player Lee Sedol in Seoul earlier this month.

The program made history last year by becoming the first machine to beat a human pro player, but 33-year-old Lee, one of the world's top players, was seen as a much more formidable opponent.

The 4-1 defeat of Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol by Google's AlphaGo artificial intelligence (AI) is only the latest in a string of pursuits in which technology has triumphed over humanity.

Go, most popular in countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, involves two contestants moving black and white stones across a square grid, aiming to seize the most territory.

Until AlphaGo's victory last year, experts had not expected an artificial intelligence program to beat a human professional for at least a decade.

Also on Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited one of China's top Go training schools, according to the China Daily.

A spokesman at Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, said Pichai was in China to develop his understanding of Go and of the country.

The battle of the AI's: Chinese team to challenge Google's AlphaGo in 'world's most complex' board game

Chinese companies like Baidu Inc, the country's nearest equivalent of Google, are also working on developing AI.

Baidu in 2014 hired former Google engineer Andrew Ng, who had helmed the U.S. search giant's Google Brain AI efforts.

But as simple as the rules are, Go is a game of profound complexity.

There are 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

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000000000000000000000000000000000000000 possible positions - that's more than the number of atoms in the universe, and more than a googol (10 to the power of 100) times larger than chess.

This complexity is what makes Go hard for computers to play and therefore an irresistible challenge to artificial intelligence researchers, who use games as a testing ground to invent smart, flexible algorithms that can tackle problems, sometimes in ways similar to humans.

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31 March 2016, 20:22