This week, AlphaGo became the first computer program to beat a world champion in the game of Go, in its games against the great Lee Sedol, the best Go player over the last decade and possibly the best player ever.
I was lucky enough to be in Seoul, Korea this week, as a guest of the DeepMind team to watch the first couple of matches (https://deepmind.com/alpha-go.html). (See attached pictures).
The AlphaGo work started a couple of years ago as a modest collaboration between Ilya Sutskever (then in the Brain team), his Brain team intern at the time, Chris Maddison and Aja Huang and David Silver in DeepMind team (http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.6564) on building a neural net to do move evaluation for Go. The DeepMind team then really pushed this work forward over the last couple of years and added the major pieces of improvement through reinforcement learning through millions of games of self-play, and an optimized Monte-Carlo Tree Search to significantly strengthen the system's ability to understand long-term implications of move sequences.
Many of the pieces of the AlphaGo system were trained with DistBelief (our first generation training system for neural nets) and TensorFlow (tensorflow.org). Large-scale parallel neural net training for the win!
The amount of media coverage at the AlphaGo match was crazy.
I also had a great time visiting the Google Seoul office, and giving a talk at Campus Seoul, a startup incubator space that Google operates in Seoul.
Google is excited to award 28 organizations in 16 countries with a Google RISE Award. The RISE Awards support outstanding organizations that engage girls and underrepresented students in extracurricular Computer Science programs.
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