Web Desk — DeepMind’s board game-playing AI, AlphaGo, may well have won its first game against the Go world number one, Ke Jie, from China – but but most Chinese viewers could not watch the match live.
The Chinese government had issued a censorship notice to broadcasters and online publishers, warning them against livestreaming Tuesday’s game, according to China Digital Times, a site that regularly posts such notices in the name of transparency.
China censored Google’s AlphaGo match against world’s best Go player https://t.co/HouXtQ8wWs
— Guardian Tech (@guardiantech) May 24, 2017
“Regarding the go match between Ke Jie and AlphaGo, no website, without exception, may carry a livestream,” the notice read. “If one has been announced in advance, please immediately withdraw it.” The ban did not just cover video footage: outlets were banned from covering the match live in any way, including text commentary, social media, or push notifications.
It appears the government was concerned that 19-year-old Ke, who lost the first of three scheduled games by a razor-thin half-point margin, might have suffered a more damaging defeat that would hurt the national pride of a state which holds Go close to its heart.
After the game Ke said AlphaGo had become too strong for humans. “I feel like his game is more and more like the ‘Go god,’” he said. “Really, it is brilliant”.
AlphaGo: world’s best Go player flummoxed by Google’s ‘godlike’ AI https://t.co/9zYxAuki6H
— Guardian Tech (@guardiantech) May 23, 2017
The ban underscores the esteem in which Go is held across east Asia, where it has been played in more or less unmodified form for over 2,000 years. First invented in China in 500BC, it was considered one of the four arts a scholarly Chinese gentleman should master, along with playing the guqin, calligraphy and painting.