The Rise of Artificial Intelligence: Master of Go Is Walloped by Google Computer Program

Computer, one. Human, zero.

A Google computer program stunned one of the world’s top players on Wednesday in a round of Go, which is believed to be the most complex board game ever created.

The match — between Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo and the South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol — was viewed as an important test of how far research into artificial intelligence has come in its quest to create machines smarter than humans.

“I am very surprised because I have never thought I would lose,” Mr. Lee said at a news conference in Seoul. “I didn’t know that AlphaGo would play such a perfect Go.”

Mr. Lee acknowledged defeat after three and a half hours of play.

Demis Hassabis, the founder and chief executive of Google’s artificial intelligence team DeepMind, the creator of AlphaGo, called the program’s victory a “historic moment.”

The match, the first of five scheduled through Tuesday, took place at a Seoul hotel amid intense news media attention. Hundreds of reporters, many of them from China, Japan and South Korea, where Go has been played for centuries, were there to cover it. Tens of thousands of people watched the contest live on YouTube.

Google Program Beats Go Champion

Lee Se-dol, the world’s top player of the boardgame Go, lost the first of five matches to a computer program, AlphaGo, designed by Google DeepMind.

Go is a two-player game of strategy said to have originated in China 3,000 years ago. Players compete to win more territory by placing black and white “stones” on a grid measuring 19 squares by 19 squares.

The play is more complex than chess, with a far greater possible sequence of moves, and requires superlative instincts and evaluation skills. Because of that, many researchers believed that mastery of the game by a computer was still a decade away.

Before the match, Mr. Lee said he could win 5-0 or 4-1, predicting that computing power alone could not win a Go match. Victory takes “human intuition,” something AlphaGo has not yet mastered, he said.

Learn more: Master of Go Board Game Is Walloped by Google Computer Program


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