Google AI program wins third straight match to take Go series

Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:28am EST
 
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SEOUL (Reuters) - Google's artificial intelligence (AI) program on Saturday took a 3-0 lead in a five-match series against one of the world's top players of the complicated board game Go.

The victory for the AlphaGo program, designed by Google subsidiary DeepMind, over South Korean professional player Lee Sedol, the holder of 18 international titles, has surprised many, including its designers and has underscored advances in AI.

"I am very sorry for the powerless display," a dejected Lee told reporters in the South Korean capital, Seoul, after his defeat.

"Though I have a lot of experience in Go I have never felt before such severe pressure as I do now, and I suppose my abilities were a bit lacking to overcome that."

Go, most popular in countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, involves two contestants moving black and white stones on a square grid, with the aim of seizing the most territory.

Experts did not expect an artificial intelligence program to beat a human professional for at least a decade, until AlphaGo beat a player last year.

But Lee, 33, had been expected to put up stiffer competition than the player defeated then.

"To be honest we are a bit stunned and speechless," said DeepMind founder Demis Hassibis, who earlier tweeted that AlphaGo's victory was a "historic moment."

Google executives say Go offers too many possible moves for a machine to win simply through brute-force calculations, unlike chess, in which IBM's Deep Blue famously beat former world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.   Continued...

 
The world's top Go player Lee Sedol puts the first stone against Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo during the third match of Google DeepMind Challenge Match in Seoul, South Korea, in this handout picture provided by Google and released by Yonhap on March 12, 2016.  REUTERS/Google/Yonhap