AIs Have Mastered Chess. Will Go Be Next?

Randomness could trump expertise in this ancient game of strategy

11 min read
A Go board board covered with a grid of closely spaced lines and bean-size black and white stones.
Photo: Dan Saelinger; Prop Stylist: Dominique Baynes

Chou Chun-hsun, one of the world’s top players of the ancient game of Go, sat hunched over a board covered with a grid of closely spaced lines. To the untrained eye, the bean-size black and white stones scattered across the board formed a random design. To Chou, each stone was part of a complex campaign between two opposing forces that were battling to capture territory. The Go master was absorbed in thought as he considered various possibilities for his next move and tried to visualize how each option would affect the course of the game. Chou’s strategy relied on a deep understanding of Go, the result of almost 20 years of painstaking study.

Although Chou looked calm, he knew he was in big trouble. It was 22 August 2009, and Chou was matched against a Go-playing computer running Fuego, an open-source program that we developed at the University of Alberta, in Canada, with contributions from researchers at IBM and elsewhere. The program was playing at the level of a grand master—yet it knew nothing about the game beyond the basic rules.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Xiaomi Builds a Humanoid Robot for Some Reason

CyberOne is a new biped from China, but why does it exist?

3 min read
A black and white humanoid robot lies face down on dirt after appearing to have just fallen

Xiaomi, a large Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, has introduced a full size bipedal humanoid robot called CyberOne. It’s 177 centimeters in height and weighs 52 kilograms, and it comes with 21 degrees of freedom, with “a curved OLED module to display real-time interactive information.” Nifty! So, uh, its actual purpose is... what exactly?

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Climate-Friendly Ethereum Is One Merge Away

Successful tests set the stage for the cryptocurrency’s switchover in September

3 min read
A large blue lit data center. A figure wearing a white cleanroom suit walks towards a green lit room.

Here pictured is Evobits crypto farm, an Ethereum mining rig in Romania.

Akos Stiller/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The merge is coming, and crypto may never be the same.

“The merge” is shorthand for Ethereum’s rapidly approaching switch from one compute-intensive form of blockchain verification to a much less resource-heavy method. In other words, the cryptocurrency will be switching from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. This move, which is years in the making, changes how Ethereum maintains consensus—and drastically slashes power consumption.

“Ethereum’s power-hungry days will soon be numbered,” says Terence Tsao, Ethereum protocol developer at Prysmatic Labs. “And I hope that’s true for the rest of the industry, too.”

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Navigating the Great Resignation and Changing Client Demands

With IP law firms under pressure to meet client expectations more efficiently, practices are turning to creative workflow solutions and new staffing models

1 min read

With IP law firms under increasing pressure to meet client expectations faster and more efficiently, many practices are turning to creative workflow solutions and new staffing models. Register now for this free webinar.

Keep Reading ↓Show less