Google’s Artificial Intelligence program AlphaGo has defeated the world champion Lee Sedol at board game Go in the first of five games.
The victory in Seoul marks another breakthrough for artificial intelligence following the software’s previous five-nil win over European champion Fan Hui.
Mastering the ancient Chinese board game has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence programs owing to its vast complexity and reliance on player intuition and creativity.
Similar programming efforts have struggled to compete at the level of human amateurs despite many years of difficult work. AlphaGo’s victories have beaten expert predictions of accomplishing the feat by at least a decade.
Founder and CEO of Google’s DeepMind division, Demis Hassabis, is responsible for developing the programme. He said in a tweet this morning:
#AlphaGo WINS!!!! We landed it on the moon. So proud of the team!! Respect to the amazing Lee Sedol too
— Demis Hassabis (@demishassabis) March 9, 2016
DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman echoed his colleague’s sentiment when he remarked “we made history!”:
Huge milestone in AI! AlphaGo beats the world champion Lee Sedol! We made history! What an incredible moment! 🙂 pic.twitter.com/Un4imciEYS
— Mustafa Suleyman (@mustafasuleymn) March 9, 2016
Commentators described the game as a close contest with both human and software players making several mistakes.
The win came as a shock to the 18 times world champion Lee Sedol who was previously confident about securing victory. He commented after the game that the artificial intelligence programme’s strategy was “excellent”.
Following considerable artificial intelligence advances in recent years it may not be long before non-human intelligence begins to play an important role in our everyday lives.
The next round in the five game match will begin at 04:00 GMT and can be viewed via live stream here:
Edited by Sara Macham