DeepMind’s program AlphaGo took on the legendary Lee Sedol (9-dan pro), the top Go player of the past decade, in a $1M 5-game challenge match in Seoul. AlphaGo won 3 games to zero.
In October 2015, AlphaGo became the first computer program ever to beat a professional Go player by winning 5-0 against the reigning 3-times European Champion Fan Hui (2-dan pro). That work was featured in a front cover article in the science journal Nature in January 2016.
AlphaGo is now 3-0 up in the series, but there’s no mercy rule here — the remaining games on Sunday and Tuesday will still be played out.
“To be honest we are a bit stunned and speechless,” said DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis. “AlphaGo can compute tens of thousand positions a second, but it’s amazing that Lee Se-dol is able to compete with that and push AlphaGo to the limit. We came here to challenge Lee Se-dol because we wanted to see what AlphaGo was capable of, and his amazing genius and creative skills have done that.”
“I do apologize for not being able to satisfy people’s expectations,” said Lee, who believes that he had no chance in the first game, missed opportunities in the second, and succumbed to pressure today. He asked for people to continue to show interest in the remaining two games, despite his overall loss. “I believe [Lee] would have been difficult to beat today by any other top professional,” said 9-dan pro player and match commentator Michael Redmond, who called AlphaGo a “work of art” that could revolutionize Go play in the future.