Published 15 October, 2020; last updated 08 March, 2021
Progress in computer Go performance took:
Human go ratings range from 30 kyu (beginner), through 7 dan to at least 9 professional dan.1 These ratings go downwards through kyu levels, then upward through dan levels, then upward through professional dan levels. The top ratings seem to be closer together than the lower ones, though there are apparently multiple systems which vary)2
Wikipedia says the first Go program was written in 1968.3 We do not know how well it performed.
We have not investigated early Go performance in depth. Figure 1 includes informed guesses about early performance by David Fotland, author of successful Go program, The Many Faces of Go, and Sensei’s Library, a Go wiki.4 Fotland says that early data on AI Go performance is poor, since bots did not play in tournaments, so were not rated.
This suggests that by 1987 Go bots were performing better than human beginners. We do not have evidence to pin down the date of human beginner level AI better, but have also not investigated thoroughly (there appears to be more evidence).
In May 2017 AlphaGo beat the top ranked Go player in the world.5 This does not imply that AlphaGo was overall better, but a new version in October could beat the May version in 89 games out of 1006, suggesting that if in May it would have beaten Ke Jie in more than 11% of games, the new version would beat Ke Jie more than half the time, i.e. perform better than the best human player. Thus 2017 seems like a reasonable date for top human-level play.
Given the above dates, we have:
|First attempt to beginner level||1968||<1987||<19|
|Beginner to superhuman||<1987||2017||>30|
Primary author: Katja Grace
Grace, Katja. “Algorithmic Progress in Six Domains.” Berkeley, CA: Machine Intelligence Research Institute, 2013.
“Computer Go.” In Wikipedia, July 27, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Computer_Go&oldid=969736537