American Go E-Journal

Wired Magazine on “The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win”

Tuesday May 13, 2014

“Rémi Coulom is sitting in a rolling desk chair, hunched over a battered Macbook laptop, hoping it will do something no machine has ever done.” So begins Alan Levinovitz’s thorough report on the current state of computer go in Wired Magazine – The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win – published May 12. Levinovitz covered this year’s UEC Cup, the computer Go tournament held each March that rewards two finalists with matches against a “Go sage” in the Densei-sen, or machine-versus-man matches. The Wired report covers the history of computer go, name-checking Einstein, Turing and Nash, includes an excellent explanation of the game’s branching problem and explains how the development of Monte Carlo Tree Search enabled the latest breakthroughs in computer go, in which Coulom’s Crazy Stone program won the first Densei-sen last year against Japanese professional Yoshio “The Computer” Ishida. American-born pro Michael Redmond — a regular EJ contributor — makes an appearance in the report as the commentator at the UEC Cup. Levinovitz does a good job demystifying computer go, as well, writing that the view that go is “the final bastion of human dominance over computers” is “deeply misguided.” Levinovitz points out that “computers can’t ‘win’ at anything, not until they can experience real joy in victory and sadness in defeat, a programming challenge that makes Go look like tic-tac-toe. Computer Go matches aren’t the brain’s last stand. Rather, they help show just how far machines have to go before achieving something akin to true human intelligence.”
photo: Remi Coulom (left) and his computer program, Crazy Stone, take on grandmaster Norimoto Yoda. Photo: Takashi Osato/WIRED. Thanks to the many EJ readers who quickly spotted this report and passed it along. 

Categories: Go Spotting,Japan,World
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