Google computer beats 18-time master Go champion

stones on a Go board

AlphaGo’s victory is seen as a major landmark for artificial intelligence Credit: Reuters
A computer programme has beaten an 18-time international Go player champion in a best-of-five series competition.

The Google-developed programme took an unassailable 3-0 lead against one of the ancient game’s greatest modern players, Lee Se-dol, in South Korea on Saturday.

Its triumph is seen as a landmark moment for artificial intelligence.

Lee Se-dol looks deflated after his defeat to AlphaGo Credit: Reuters
Chinese board game Go is considered to be a much more complex challenge for a computer than chess.

But the computer programme, AlphaGo, took just four hours to secure its third consecutive win over Lee.

Lee, who has topped the world ranking for much of the past decade and had predicted an easy victory when accepting the AlphaGo challenge, now finds himself fighting to avoid a whitewash in the two remaining dead rubbers on Sunday and Tuesday.

“I don’t know what to say, but I think I have to express my apologies first,” Lee said.

“I apologise for being unable to satisfy a lot of people’s expectations. I kind of felt powerless”.

Lee acknowledged he had “misjudged” the computer programme’s abilities.
Go involves two players alternately laying black and white stones on a chequerboard-like grid of 19 lines by 19 lines. The winner is the player who manages to seal off more territory.

AlphaGo uses two sets of “deep neural networks” 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.

AlphaGo’s creators reacted to the computer’s victory saying they were “stunned and speechless”.


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