Go players gear up for man-vs.-machine match

Image: Go game
After winning its matches against European Go champion Fan Hui, the A.I. program AlphaGo is taking on South Korea’s Lee Sedol, a legendary figure in the game of Go. (Credit: Google DeepMind)

This month’s human-vs.-machine Go match between South Korean legend Lee Sedol and Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI program is a teachable moment – not only for experts in the field of artificial intelligence, but for aficionados of the millennia-old game of Go as well.

The five games in the $1 million challenge will be streamed live online from Seoul, with the first game due to begin at 8 p.m. PT Tuesday.

There’ll be online commentary, but if you’re looking for more of the human touch, show up at the Seattle Go Center, at 700 NE 45th St. in the University District. The center will be streaming each match on a big screen, and if you’re a newbie, you can learn how to play the game while Sedol contemplates his moves.

“This is the ‘John Henry’ moment for the 21st century,” Brian Allen, manager of the Seattle Go Center, told GeekWire in an email. He’s referring to the 19th-century folk tale about a “steel-drivin’ man” who was pitted against a steam-powered hammer.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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