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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 15, The Showdown Between AI and Shogi Masters
In recent years, AI technology has advanced more than ever. The Den’ou games have highlighted these advancements.
In this lesson, we'll learn about this news story.

Lesson focus

The Shogi Den'ou battle is an informal competition between shogi-game software sponsored by Japanese IT companies and professional shogi players.
The Den'ou games began in 2012, and professional shogi players have been defeated in many games.
Even in the 2016 game, the shogi software, "Ponanza," and Yamasaki Takayuki Hie faced off and "Ponanza" won.
The year 2017 opened with a theme of revenge, and "Ponanza" and Master Amahiko Sato made it to the final round.
It was the first time that a game was held between shogi software and a titleholder.
Master Sato is a professional shogi player, who, last May, for the first time, won the title against the three-time title recipient Habu Yoshiharu, who is a genius of the game.
However, "Ponanza" is also a strong entity, which has never been defeated in past Den'ou battles.
The battle, which attracted not only the attention from shogi fans, but also of many others, such as the IT industry, was held in two matches.
Both matches, the first held at Nikko Toshogu Shrine and the second at Himeji Castle, developed into a fierce battle, but they both ended with two consecutive defeats for Mr. Sato.
Actually, Mr. Sato had borrowed "Ponanza" in advance and repeatedly conducted research.
However, he said that although he played over 150 matches, he could hardly ever win.
After the game, Mr. Sato commented, "It's beyond the level of current shogi players."
Though Chess, Go, and shogi have simple rules, they are games that require complicated and advanced thinking.
It can be said that the difficulty and fun is reading your opponent's "psychology."
Shogi is a game that deceives the "heart" because it has "soul."
Therefore, it was considered impossible for a machine, which does not have "heart."
But AI technology is trying to surpass it by predicting human "psychology" and by analyzing big data obtained in the past.
This evolution is now mixed with fear and expectation.


Those are the key facts about the showdown between AI and Shogi masters.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!