Google’s amazing Go-playing AI, AlphaGo, has convincingly beaten Lee Sedol in the Google DeepMind Challenge series, shutting out the reigning human champion in only the third match, bringing the score to 3-0. Just because AlphaGo has won doesn’t mean the series will end here, though, the remaining two matches will still be played out though the chance of Sedol winning even a single match is beginning to look slim.
AlphaGo previously beat Fan Hui, European Go champion and 2-dan master 5-0, yet despite this Sedol expected that he would be able to win the series 5-0 or 4-1 in his favour. This is the first time that such a high-ranked Go player had taken on an AI, so regardless of the winner, this would have been a historic event for AI. More importantly than the $1 million prize money, DeepMind’s AI claiming victory is a landmark event for AI development, with the complexity of Go making it impossible for a machine to play at such high tiers despite similar breakthroughs in Chess and other games.
#AlphaGo won game 3 and the match! Historic moment. In complete awe of Lee Sedol’s incredible genius, and proud of the amazing AlphaGo team!
— Demis Hassabis (@demishassabis) March 12, 2016
Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO of DeepMind was left “stunned and speechless” by the AI’s performance in the final match and felt that Lee Sedol had stretched the AI to its limits in the last 3 matches. He also reminded people that it was about the bigger picture, with the aim of learning from Lee Sedol’s skill and ingenuity and seeing how AlphaGo would learn from him. In the press conference following the match, Sedol apologised for his poor performance and wished that he had been able to put on a stronger showing and stated that the pressure that AlphaGo was able to put on him in the final match was like none he had faced before. Sedol has far from given up on beating AlphaGo as while it plays a strong game, he believes it is still not on par with the “Divine Gods” of Go and is still intending to give his all to the final matches and urges fans to continue to watch with interest.
It is important to remember, that while AlphaGo’s claim to fame may be the game of Go, the methods used in its development are general purpose, meaning that similar AI could be applied to solving key problems for humanity and help to advance numerous scientific fields. The remaining two matches of the series will be played on Sunday and Tuesday, where we will see if AlphaGo will manage a repeat of its past performance or whether Sedol can find a weakness he can use to win the remaining games.