Google’s DeepMind AI takes first round against Go champ

Google’s advanced DeepMind AI has beaten one of the world’s top Go players in their opening match.

The match-up between Lee Sedol of South Korea and the Google DeepMind AI team’s AlphaGo program had been heavily anticipated, and was even live streamed on YouTube.

AlphaGo had made short work of European Go champ Fan Hui back in January, but 9-dan (the highest ranking in Go) world champion Lee Sedol was expected to be a much tougher proposition.

That doesn’t seem to have played out in the first of five matches between the two. With three and a half hours on the clock, and 30 minutes still to play, Lee resigned to hand the victory to the AI.

After the match, Lee admitted to being “very surprised” by the result. “I didn’t expect to lose. I didn’t think AlphaGo would play the game in such a perfect manner,” he told reporters.

Related: What is DeepMind?

We’ve had computers beating chess grand masters before, of course, but Go is considered a much trickier game for a computer program to master. The 2,500-year-old game, which originated in China, takes place on a much larger 19 x 19 game board, and involves a far greater number of potential strategic scenarios.

This means that a modern computer program can’t so easily data-crunch its way to victory – hence DeepMind’s AI solution.

Here’s the match in full:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFr3K2DORc8

The two competitors will play their second of five games tonight, at 4am GMT.