The Atlantic

The AI That Has Nothing to Learn From Humans

DeepMind’s new self-taught Go-playing program is making moves that other players describe as “alien” and “from an alternate dimension.”
Source: China Stringer Network / Reuters

It was a tense summer day in 1835 Japan. The country’s reigning Go player, Honinbo Jowa, took his seat across a board from a 25-year-old prodigy by the name of Akaboshi Intetsu. Both men had spent their lives mastering the two-player strategy game that’s long been popular in East Asia. Their face-off, that day, was high-stakes: Honinbo and Akaboshi represented two Go houses fighting for power, and the rivalry between the two camps had lately exploded into accusations of foul play.

Little did they know that the match—now remembered by Go historians as the “blood-vomiting game”—would last for several grueling days. Or that it would lead to a grisly end.

Early on, the young Akaboshi took a lead. But then, according to lore, “ghosts” appeared and showed Honinbo three crucial moves. His comeback was so overwhelming that, as the story goes, his junior opponent keeled over and began coughing up

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic9 min read
How to Save a Dying Language
The Hawaiian language nearly went extinct. Now it’s being taught in dozens of immersion schools.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
If the Witnesses Could Exonerate Trump, Why Aren’t They Testifying?
Trump’s defenders suggest that White House aides could exculpate the president—but the evidence suggests otherwise.
The Atlantic7 min readPolitics
A University’s Betrayal of Historical Truth
The University of North Carolina agreed to pay the Sons of Confederate Veterans $2.5 million—a sum that rivals the endowment of its history department.