Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol was unable to claw back another consolation win in his five-match battle against AlphaGo, with Google’s artificial intelligence winning the series 4-1. AlphaGo – a development of Google’s DeepMind AI program – forced a narrow victory; Lee showed signs that he was adapting to the formidable program, but ultimately lost.
Early on, AlphaGo made a dreadful mistake, similar to the one which Lee took advantage of in match 4, but was able to claw its way back to squeak a win. DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis called AlphaGo’s “mind-blowing” comeback “One of the most incredible games ever.”
#AlphaGo wins game 5! One of the most incredible games ever. To comeback from the initial big mistake against Lee Sedol was mind-blowing!!!
— Demis Hassabis (@demishassabis) March 15, 2016
The victory marks the first time an AI has beaten a champion Go player, a feat that many AI experts predicted was years off.
Lee was inconsolable during the post-match conference. “I failed,” he said. “I feel sorry that the match is over and it ended like this. I wanted it to end well.” Before the series began, Lee had predicted that he would beat AlphaGo either 5-0 or 4-1.
The Lee Vs. AlphaGo contest has seen a surge in interest in Go – a Chinese strategy board game considered even more complex than chess – which, while popular in East Asia, is not commonly played in the West. “I’ve never seen this much attention for Go, ever,” said Lee Ha-jin, Secretary General at the International Go Federation, during the live stream of the final match.