Google AI leaves world Go champion ‘grim and ashen’ after second game

After his second straight loss to a computer, world Go champion Lee Sedol would do well to ignore comments made by the last guy to get whupped by Google’s AlphaGo program in the ancient Chinese board game. “In China, Go is not just a game. It is also a mirror on life,” Fan Hui, Go champion in Europe, told the journal Nature after losing to AlphaGo in October.  “We say if you have a problem with your game, maybe you also have a problem in life.”

Lee, as a Korean, and a winner of 18 world Go championships, may be immune to such thinking — but if he loses the next game in the best-of-five series, he loses out on the $1 million prize, and that’s bound to hurt.

AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence program developed in Google’s DeepMind unit, vanquished Lee in games on Wednesday and Thursday in Seoul, South Korea.

“Yesterday I was surprised but today it’s more than that — I am speechless,” Lee said in a press conference after his second beat-down. “I admit that it was a very clear loss on my part. From the very beginning of the game I did not feel like there was a point that I was leading.”

The New York Times described Lee as “grim and ashen” following Thursday’s defeat.

AlphaGo’s conquests demonstrate the astounding advance of AI technology — it had been widely believed in computer science communities that AI was a decade away from beating a top Go player.

Lee and AlphaGo now have a one-day break, with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday.

“The third game is not going to be easy for me,” Lee said.

Google has said that if its software wins the match, the $1 million prize will go to UNICEF, Go associations and charities.


Photo: A Go board with playing stones (Wikimedia Commons photo/Donar Reiskoffer)


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  • Dennis A

    Why wouldn’t an AI win against a human? It has the ability to think an unlimited amount of moves ahead based upon any move its opponent makes. If the AI can’t win every single time then the programmer is obviously retarded.

    • JH

      That’s not working in go. That’s why this is extremely significant. This system mimick, to the point of besting, the human capacity of intuition and learning bilious. That’s why it is significant.