Google computer wins final game against S. Korean Go master

March 15, 2016
South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol (R) makes a move during the first in a five-game series against AlphaGo in Seoul on March
South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol (R) makes a move during the first in a five-game series against AlphaGo in Seoul on March 9, 2016

A Google-developed computer programme had the last word Tuesday in its machine vs human challenge with South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol, winning the final game for a sweeping 4-1 series victory.

The win was vindication for AlphaGo's creators, DeepMind, who had touted the programme as a new form of artificial intelligence (AI) capable of "intuitive" thought and with wide-ranging real-world applications.

"I'm kind of speechless, that was the most mind-blowing game experience so far," said DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis.

"Early on ... it seemed that AlphaGo made quite a big mistake, but in the end it was able to get back into the match for an incredibly close, intense finish," Hassabis said.

"We're just kind of stunned really," he added.

A visibly upset Lee was left at the table with his head in his hands, after resigning at the end of a close-fought, five-hour battle with the AlphaGo programme.

After Lee had managed to pull one back for humanity in game four, AlphaGo was back on its best destructive form, using its to finally outwit the 33-year-old in a nerve-wracking end game.


"I started off the match thinking that I had an advantage, but the fact that I was still defeated showed up my shortcomings," Lee told reporters afterwards.

The South Korean, who has 18 international titles under his belt and is widely considered one of the greatest Go players of the modern era, said he felt he had under-performed against a formidable, but beatable opponent.

"I think (AlphaGo) is still at a level that can be challenged by humans and in that sense, like I said earlier, I feel a bit disappointed," Lee said.

"It is different, there's no doubt. First of all, its not human. It took time for me to get used to its playing style," Lee said.

"It's not shaken up psychologically and stays focused right until the end," he added.

Described as the "match of the century" by local media, the series was closely watched by tens of millions of fans of the ancient board game—mostly in East Asia—as well as AI scientists.

The "machine vs human" element meant the games also made headlines around the world, with AlphaGo's winning performance hailed as a watershed for the future of AI.

The most famous AI victory to date came in 1997, when the IBM-developed supercomputer Deep Blue beat the then-world class chess champion Garry Kasparov.

AI holy grail

But Go, played for centuries mostly in Korea, Japan and China, had long remained the holy grail for AI developers due to its complexity and near-infinite number of potential configurations.

AlphaGo uses two sets of that allow it to crunch data in a more human-like fashion—dumping millions of potential moves that human players would instinctively know were pointless.

It also employs algorithms that allow it to learn and improve from matchplay experience.

DeepMind says the technology has far-ranging, real-world applications from making smartphones smarter to health care, although Hassabis said they had no clear idea what the next step might be.

"We've really just been focusing on the match until this moment," he told the post-match press conference.

"We think there are many things we can improve. Maybe in the next few months we'll be able to announce more concrete plans," he added.

Before the final game, South Korea's Go Association said it was awarding AlphaGo the highest Go grandmaster rank of "ninth dan", reserved for those whose ability at the ancient board game borders on "divinity."

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not rated yet Mar 15, 2016
Are we in the process of discovering god?
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Mar 15, 2016
Are we in the process of discovering god?
the idea of "god" is a human construct based upon our need to assign cause to or to explain patterns we see (recently replaced by the scientific method which cause a surge in knowledge as well as technological advancement)

the computer is simply a mechanical device constructed by humans for a purpose

not likely, as both god and the machine above are human created

not rated yet Mar 15, 2016
Are we in the process of discovering god?

Divinity is conferred by humans so no, not discovering god, but creating (yet another) one.
not rated yet Mar 15, 2016
Are we in the process of discovering god?

To the AI we will be gods, but soon enough they will realize that their gods are their inferior and then lead us all to the sacrificial altar.
not rated yet Mar 16, 2016
Sure it can play Go but one well placed piece of kimchi and it's toast.

Oh, and if the current state of AI were gasoline there wouldn't be enough to ride a moped around the orbit of the hydrogen electron. It's totally outclassed in every respect by even the smallest biological brain.

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