Chinese Go Association suspends player ‘for using AI’

The Chinese Go Association – the body that oversees professional and high-level amateur play of the board game – has suspended a player for apparently using artificial intelligence during a tournament.

An announcement from the body says the cheating occurred while playing online during the preliminary rounds of the Advocate Cup China Professional Go Championship – a high-level tournament in which the winner goes home with ¥450,000 (about $70,000).

It’s unclear how the player was caught; we’d hate to think it was because they were personally too good. Perhaps their movements were too eccentric or unorthodox to be human.

The game was done online due to some viral pandemic that you might have heard about in the news lately.

The announcement names Liu Ruizhi as the player detected using an AI and states that he was suspended for one year for his misdeeds. His supervisor was also slapped.

Go is a two-player game in which players place a black or white stone on a 19 x 19 board. The object of the game is to surround opponents’ stones in order to capture them all or gain territory. The game board can reach 10170 different permutations, which makes it a bit more complex than chess.

It’s not hard to see why Liu turned to AI. In 2016, Google revealed that its DeepMind AI helped create a program called AlphaGo that beat a top human gamer. The achievement was hailed as remarkable because, at the time, experts believed computers were years away from beating human Go players.

The Google program continued to beat higher ranked humans, including world champions and the number one ranked player. This was considered an important moment in man/machine relations.

A later version of the AI ​​called AlphaGo Zero even managed to learn the game from first principles and then beat the original AlphaGo – 100 games to zero.

The association’s announcement does not reveal who AI Liu would have employed, although he certainly had options. It’s not hard to find a Go AI online – here’s one inspired by AlphaGo. It’s also easy to find the tensor processing units (TPUs) that have AlphaGo buzzing – Google itself offers them as a service.

As they say: when you have a Go, you have a Go.®

Andrew B. Reiter