We have always believed in the potential for AI to help society discover new knowledge and benefit from it, and AlphaGo has given us an early glimpse that this may indeed be possible.
More than a competitor, AlphaGo has been a tool to inspire Go players to try new strategies and uncover new ideas in this 3,000 year-old game.
The creative moves it played against the legendary Lee Sedol in Seoul in 2016 brought completely new knowledge to the Go world, while the unofficial online games it played under the moniker Magister earlier this year have influenced many of Go’s leading professionals – including the genius Ke Jie himself.
Events like this week’s Pair Go, in which two of the world’s top players partnered with AlphaGo, showed the great potential for people to use AI systems to generate new insights in complex fields.
This week’s series of thrilling games with the world’s best players, in the country where Go originated, has been the highest possible pinnacle for AlphaGo as a competitive program.
The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials.
If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable.