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Feb 25 2016

A Milestone in AI: a computer won against a Go champion

I usually only blog about security or Sci-Fi. Nevertheless, I will blog about an entirely unrelated topic as I believe we have reached an important milestone. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is around for many decades with various successes. For several years, AI, through machine learning, has made tremendous progress with some deployed fascinating products or services. For instance, Google Photo has leap-frogged the exploitation of databases of images. It can automatically detect pictures featuring the same person over decades! Some friends told me that it even differentiated natural twins.

Nevertheless, I always believed that go game was out of the reach of AI. Go is a multi-millennial ancient game with extremely simple rules (indeed, only three rules). It is played on a go ban of 19 x 19 positions. Each player adds a stone (white or black) to create the largest territory. The game is extremely complex not only because of the number of possible combinations (it is said to be greater than the number of atoms in the universe) but also by the infinite possible strategies. It exceeds by several amplitudes the complexity of chess. A great game!!!

On January 27, 2016, Google made my belief wrong. For the first time, their software, AlphaGo, won five games to zero against a professional go player. AlphaGo was first trained with 30 million moves. Then, it has been self-reinforced by playing against itself thousands of times. The result is a software at the level of a professional go player. Evidently, AI passed a milestone.

Machine learning will smoothly invade security practices. Training software through logs to detect incidents will be a good starting point.

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