Go champion loses to AI program in historic duel

Image: Go showdown
Go champion Lee Sedol (seated at right) reviews the final moves after surrendering his first game to Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence program. (Credit: Google DeepMind via YouTube)

Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence program won the first of five Go games in a milestone million-dollar match against South Korean champion Lee Sedol today – marking another milestone for machine learning.

“I am in shock. … But I am looking forward to tomorrow,” Sedol was quoted as saying afterward.

AlphaGo notched its first victories against a professional Go player in October when it beat European champion Fan Hui, five games out of five. But experts in the centuries-old game thought the AI program would have a harder time with Sedol, who is more highly ranked on the Go circuit.

Sedol ran out of options for the endgame and surrendered after about three and a half hours of play. “A big surprise, I think,” commentator Michael Redmond said during the webcast from Seoul.

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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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