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Chinese Go Association suspends player 'for using AI'

A reminder: ML absolutely wipes the floor with humans at ancient game

The Chinese Go Association – the body that oversees professional and high-level amateur play of the board game – has suspended a player for apparently using artificial intelligence during a tournament.

An announcement from the body states the cheating happened during online play in preliminary rounds of the Advocate Cup China Professional Go Championship – a top-tier tournament at which the winner goes home with ¥450,000 (about $70,000).

It's not clear how the player was caught; we'd hate to think it was because they were personally too good. Their moves may have been too quirky or unorthodox to be human.

Play was conducted online due to a certain viral pandemic you may have read about in the news lately.

The announcement names Liu Ruizhi as the player detected using an AI, and says he's been suspended for a year for his misdeeds. His supervisor has also been slapped.

Go is a two-player game in which players place a black or white stone on a 19 x 19 board. The aim of the game is to surround opponents' stones in order to capture them all, or win territory. The game board can reach 10170 different permutations, which makes it rather more complex than chess.

It's not hard to see why Liu turned to AI. In 2016 Google revealed that its DeepMind AI had helped to create a program called AlphaGo that trounced a top human player. The achievement was hailed as remarkable because, at the time, experts felt computers were years away from beating human Go players.

The Google program went on to beat more highly ranked humans – including world champions and the number one ranked player. That was considered quite a moment in human/machine relations.

A later version of the AI called AlphaGo Zero even managed to learn the game from first principles and then trounce the original AlphaGo – 100 games to zero.

The association's announcement doesn't reveal which AI Liu allegedly employed, though he certainly had options. It's not hard to find a Go AI online – here's one inspired by AlphaGo. It's also easy to find the Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) that made AlphaGo hum – Google itself offers them as-a-service.

As they say: when you've got a Go, you've got a Go.®

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