(Bloomberg) -- The days when Chinese internet companies could simply rely on the country’s sheer population are over. That’s why Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Ma Huateng is betting on the future of artificial intelligence.

Tencent has assembled more than 250 people for its AI Lab, a fledgling unit intended to work with its most profitable divisions from gaming to social media. The company aims to teach machines how to better battle human players and strike up meaningful conversations, said Zhang Tong, the newly appointed director of the research unit. In Tokyo over the past weekend, Tencent demonstrated an early result of that collaboration, pitting its “Jueyi” against fellow computer players of the classical game Go in an annual competition. Jueyi -- which means “fine art” -- won against defending champion DeepZenGo.

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