SEOUL: A Google-developed computer programme took an unassailable 3-0 lead in its match-up with a South Korean Go grandmaster on Saturday – marking a major breakthrough for a new style of “intuitive” artificial intelligence (AI).
The programme, AlphaGo, secured victory in the five-match series with its third consecutive win over Lee Se-Dol – one the ancient game’s greatest modern players with 18 international titles to his name.
Lee, who has topped the world ranking for much of the past decade and confidently predicted an easy victory when accepting the AlphaGo challenge, now finds himself fighting to avoid a whitewash defeat in the two remaining games on Sunday and Tuesday.
“AlphaGo played consistently from beginning to the end while Lee, as he is only human, showed some mental vulnerability,” said one of Lee’s former coaches, Kwon Kap-Yong. “The machine was increasingly gaining the upper hand as the series progressed,” Kwon said.
For AlphaGo’s creators, Google DeepMind, victory goes far beyond the $1.0 million dollar prize on offer in Seoul, proving that AI can go beyond superhuman number-crunching.