Much as IBM’s Watson once demonstrated the power of AI by becoming a Jeopardy champion, DeepMind’s AlphaGo has been beating the world’s best Go players, a long-time aspiration of AI researchers which once seemed unobtainable. Here at the F8 conference, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer lavished praise on DeepMind (a division of Google) for its accomplishment—and then began talking about ELF OpenGo, Facebook’s own reimplementation of DeepMind’s technology. Though he readily admitted that Facebook’s version isn’t the world’s best Go-playing technology, it recently took on four top-30 human Go players—running on a computer with a single GPU powering its computations—and won 14-0.
As with AlphaGo, the point is not to play Go but to get better at teaching computers to tackle all sorts of problems. And Facebook is making ELF OpenGo available for free to other researchers, along with its AI for playing the science-fiction strategy game StarCraft. Once again, the goal of this open-sourcing effort is gain insights that are more broadly applicable: “We are hoping that by working with you and the whole community, we can get to the right answers faster,” said Schroepfer.