Some might see it as tempting fate. Others, simply a scientific exercise. But for world Go champion Lee Sedol, it’s also perhaps a fight for pride. Sadly, in at least the first of five rounds, Sedol will have to swallow that pride a bit as he concedes victory, not to a new prodigy. Today’s Go victory goes to science, artificial intelligence, and, to some extent, Google. Yes, AlphaGo, DeepMind’s ultra smart AI has won yet another match with a human, cementing its position to becoming the world’s best Go player. Oh, and one of the smartest AIs, of course.
While some might regard chess as the ultimate strategy challenge, Go has become of more interest to the artificial intelligence community. This is because the game presents the biggest challenge in terms of analyzing, predicting, and making moves, because of the huge number of possible choices, more than a game of chess.
That is why it is also a monumental achievement for AlphaGo to defeat not just any Go player but an 18-time international champion like Sedol. Another testament to the skill of the AI, as well as those that programmed it, is the fact that AlphaGo still managed to get the upper hand despite Sedol making unconventional moves, something that would usually throw off computers.
It’s not yet over, however. This match is just the first in five. Whoever wins in the end will be given $1 million. Since AlphaGo doesn’t really need money at all, Google will simply donate the sum to charities. There’s still a possibility that AlphaGo loses in one or two matches, but it will unlikely to be fazed given how emotionally detached AIs usually are.
The next match will be held March 9, 11 p.m. ET. You can watch Match 1 in full (for 2 hours) below: