A Historic Victory

We have our winner. A Go-playing artificial intelligence (AI) known as AlphaGo has secured a win against 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol. The AI just won its third straight game in a five-game series that is taking place in Seoul.

Ultimately, despite the fact that AlphaGo has secured 3 wins, the show must go on. The remaining games will be played on Sunday and Tuesday.

The win is notable, as Go is an ancient Chinese board game that was considered "impossible" for a computer to master, at least at higher levels. This is because the game has a host of intricate and elaborate possibilities. And according to many, the win, in truth, is more than just a milestone for AI—it is a thing of beauty.

“It’s not a human move. I’ve never seen a human play this move,” says Fan Hui, another Go champion. “So beautiful.” To that end, the program is doing much more than just mimicking human moves that it previously witnessed. It is analyzing patterns, anticipating moves, and making decisions—predicting what is best.

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"Go is a very beautiful game and I think it teaches a lot about life, much more so than a game like chess," said Google co-founder and Alphabet president Sergey Brin. "When you watch really great Go players play, it is like a thing of beauty. So I'm very excited that we've been able to instil that level of beauty inside a computer. I'm really honored to be here in the company of Lee Se-dol, such an incredible player, as well as the DeepMind team who've been working so hard on the beauty of a computer."

"To be honest we are a bit stunned and speechless," said DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis. "AlphaGo can compute tens of thousand positions a second, but it's amazing that Lee Se-dol is able to compete with that and push AlphaGo to the limit. We came here to challenge Lee Se-dol because we wanted to see what AlphaGo was capable of, and his amazing genius and creative skills have done that."

Meet Our New Champion

AlphaGo is an algorithm that has mastered the game of Go. To do this, DeepMind is using a type of AI called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on data — such as photos — and then getting them to make inferences about new data based on patterns found in the information that it is fed. 

In this case, the AI predicts which moves to play next by researching expert Go players’ moves in games. It uses a process of trial and error, effectively getting smarter by playing itself.

Although AlphaGo was made to play Go, the DeepMind team wasn’t sure their program would be the winner. A few months ago,Hassabis, was quoted saying, “If we win the match in March, then that’s sort of the equivalent of beating Kasparov in chess. Lee Sedol is the greatest player of the past decade. I think that would mean AlphaGo would be better than any human at playing Go.”

Well Hassabis, It looks like that’s the case.

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