Jump to Content


Exploring the mysteries of Go with AlphaGo and China's top players


Demis Hassabis, Fan Hui

Just over a year ago, we saw a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence: DeepMind’s AlphaGo took on and defeated one of the world’s top Go players, the legendary Lee Sedol. Even then, we had no idea how this moment would affect the 3,000 year old game of Go and the growing global community of devotees to this beautiful board game.

Instead of diminishing the game, as some feared, artificial intelligence (A.I.) has actually made human players stronger and more creative. It’s humbling to see how pros and amateurs alike, who have pored over every detail of AlphaGo’s innovative game play, have actually learned new knowledge and strategies about perhaps the most studied and contemplated game in history. You can read more about some of these creative strategies in this blog post.

AlphaGo’s play makes us feel free, that no move is impossible. Now everyone is trying to play in a style that hasn’t been tried before.

Zhou Ruiyang, 9 Dan Professional

Clearly, there remains much more to learn from this partnership between Go’s best human players and its most creative A.I. competitor. That’s why we’re so excited to announce AlphaGo’s next step: a five-day festival of Go and artificial intelligence in the game's birthplace, China.


From May 23-27, we’ll collaborate with the China Go Association and Chinese Government to bring AlphaGo, China’s top Go players, and leading A.I. experts from Google and China together in Wuzhen, one of the country’s most beautiful water towns, for the “Future of Go Summit.”

The summit will feature a variety of game formats involving AlphaGo and top Chinese players, specifically designed to explore the mysteries of the game together. The games will include:

  • “Pair Go” — A game where one Chinese pro will play against another...except they will both have their own AlphaGo teammate, alternating moves, to take the concept of ‘learning together’ quite literally.
  • “Team Go” — A game between AlphaGo and a five-player team consisting of China’s top pro players, working together to test AlphaGo’s creativity and adaptability to their combined style.
  • “Ke Jie vs AlphaGo” — Of course, the centerpiece of the event will be a classic 1:1 match of three games between AlphaGo and the world’s number one player, Ke Jie, to push AlphaGo to (...perhaps beyond!) its limits.
A group of Go players gathered around a board, outside on a cloudy day.

On top of his excellent reading and unshakable confidence, Ke Jie is known to play with a finely balanced style, knowing intuitively when to play boldly or exercise caution. Here, Ke Jie [far right], along with Nie Weiping [next to Ke Jie], Fan Hui [standing] and Gu Li [far left], have recreated the opening moves of one of AlphaGo’s games with Lee Sedol from memory to explain the beauty of its moves to Google CEO Sundar Pichai during a visit he made to Nie Weiping’s Go school in Beijing last year.

Interspersed with the games will be a forum on the “Future of A.I.” Together with some of China’s leading experts in the field, we will explore how AlphaGo has created new knowledge about the oldest of games, and how the technologies behind AlphaGo, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, are bringing solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges into reach.

Already, some of the machine learning methods behind AlphaGo have been used to tackle significant problems, such as reducing energy use. Machine learning technology is also at work in a series of exciting medical research projects. And across many of Google’s products, machine learning has suddenly made the impossible real—from allowing people using Google Photos to find that photo of their dog in the snow almost instantly to improving the quality of Google Translate more in a single leap than the past 10 years of improvements combined.

We’re excited to see what insights this next round of games and discussion will bring, and the challenges this will help us solve together—both on and off the Go board.