MAN VS. MACHINE

Taking his last stand against AI, humanity’s best Go player says the robots have already won

It’s not looking good for humanity.

Earlier today, AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence program developed by Google’s DeepMind team, defeated Ke Jie, the world’s reigning top-ranked player of the board game Go. The AI won by half a point, the smallest margin possible. Two more games are slated for May 25 and 27, as part of Google’s AI and Go summit being held in an eastern coastal town in China, Wuzhen.

Go has been one of the last games that hasn’t been conquered by machines yet, thanks to its notorious complexity. But AlphaGo has taken down a slew of top human players over the past year, and 19-year-old Ke stands as the last hope to fight against a complete machine takeover of the millennia-old board game.

But the odds for humans aren’t looking good, according to Ke Jie himself. On the eve of his first game against AlphaGo, Ke took to China’s Twitter-like Weibo to announce (link in Chinese) that the three games this week will be the last match he’ll play against robots.

“I believe the future belongs to AI,” he said.

But Ke added that he won’t go down without a fight as he takes a last stand against robots. What makes him better than his AI opponent? The answer, he says, is passion.

Here’s the full text of his letter, titled “The Last Battle,” translated:

On the eve of the final battle, I have many feelings.

At this special moment, I have some words to tell those friends who love Go, follow Go or follow me:

Whether winning or losing, it will be my last three games against artificial intelligence.

Why? Many people may ask.

Actually I have revealed this idea to my friends and family many times. The progress AI is making is far beyond our imagination. China’s FineArt and Japan’s Zen are not as good as AlphaGo yet, but they have already shown great strength. I believe the future belongs to AI.

But AlphaGo will always be a cold machine. Compared to human, I can’t feel its passion and love for Go. Well, its passion might only come from overheating with the CPU running too fast.

I’ll use all my passion to fight against it in the final battle. No matter how strong the opponent is, I’ll never step back, at least for this one last time.

After all my effort, I won’t care about the results, and I won’t care about right and wrong in other people’s mouths. I’ll sing The Ocean Laughs [a Chinese classic about swordsman]. Isn’t it beautiful and happy? I’m already lightly laughing.

It’s a sleepless night. Watch it and cherish it. Please enjoy my last three games in the battle of man versus machine.


Read next: Google’s AI AlphaGo vs. China’s Ke Jie: How to watch and what to expect

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