China Tries to Censor AI Victory Over Go Champion

Google's artificial intelligence programme AlphaGo will face the world's top-ranked Go player, China's 19-year-old Ke Jie, in a contest expected to end in another victory for rapid advances in AI

The Chinese government attempted to prevent its citizens from watching Google’s AlphaGo AI defeat the world’s best player.

Ke Jie’s “horrible experience” against Google’s latest AI experiment was withheld from live broadcast by state censors. As reported by the China Digital Times, the censorship notice dictates that “Regarding the go match between Ke Jie and AlphaGo, no website, without exception, may carry a livestream.” If a livestream had been announced in advance, the notice demanded that the announcement be immediately withdrawn.

Go is a 2,000-year-old pastime that has remained largely unchanged from its earliest historic iterations. Competence in playing has been considered a sort of status symbol for countless generations, and the potential for a computer to unseat Ke Jie seems to have been enough to unsettle Chinese censors.

The Go champion was himself put off by AlphaGo’s uncanny prowess, saying “I feel like his game is more and more like the ‘Go god.'” He vowed never to play against AlphaGo again — a stark contrast to the bravado of his “Bring it on!” enthusiasm following AlphaGo’s 4-1 victory against South Korean Grandmaster Lee Sedol.

Regardless of the government’s wishes, sites like skirted the ban by recreating the game, move by move, on their own Go boards. Meanwhile, Google’s DeepMind YouTube channel has the matches available for interested viewers outside of China.

AlphaGo is part of the DeepMind AI project acquired by Google in 2014. It is partially self-taught, having played millions of games against itself in order to master the strategic complexity of the ancient game.

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