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Google's AlphaGo AI to face world's best Go player

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Google will pitch its AlphaGo AI program against Ke Jie, the world's top-ranked Go player.

Just last month, Google's AlphaGo AI finished off a landmark 4-1 defeat of one of the best-ever Go players, Lee Sedol. Now the company's DeepMind AI department is said to be aiming even higher.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua is reporting that a match against the world's best Go player, Ke Jie, is set to go ahead this year.

You might wonder how much of a tougher task this will be for DeepMind, but it's worth noting that Lee Sedol was only ranked number four in the world when he faced the AlphaGo AI. He hadn't been ranked as the world's best since 2011.

As Ars Technica points out, 18-year-old prodigy Ke Jie has been at the top of those rankings for a couple of years now.

Ke Jei has already had plenty to say on the prospect of a match-up with AlphaGo - and it seems he's a lot less sure of his chances than he used to be. After Google's AI took the first game, Ke said: "I don't want to compete with AlphaGo because judging from its matches with Lee, AlphaGo is weaker than me. I don't want AlphaGo to copy my style."

"Even if AlphaGo can defeat Lee Se-dol, it can't beat me," he said on his Weibo account.

Related: Google's AlphaGo and 5 more times machines destroyed humanity's best

Ke climbed down from his lofty perch a little after AlphaGo took its third successive game again Lee Sedol. "AlphaGo was perfect and made no mistake," he admitted. "If the conditions are the same, it is highly likely that I can lose."

It seems we'll find out for sure by the end of the year, though there are no nailed-on plans as yet. Discussions are taking place, however, with both sides "inclined to make it happen."

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