Google’s British AI program defeats Go world champion Lee Sedol in historic match

Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) program, DeepMind, has won the first of five matches of board game Go against world champion Lee Sedol.

DeepMind Technologies was founded in 2010 by Brits Mustafa Suleyman and Demis Hassabis, and New Zealander Shane Legg, who Hassabis met at University College London's Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit.

Using AI, the start-up built a computer that mimics the short-term memory of the human brain.

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In 2014, Google acquired the company for £400 million and renamed it Google DeepMind, but it has remained headquartered in London.

In the early hours of this morning, DeepMind program AlphaGo became the first computer in history to defeat a top-ranked human player of Go.

AlphaGo defeated world champion Lee Sedol by resignation after 186 moves in the first of five matches, of which the overall victor will win $1 million. If DeepMind wins, it will donate the money to charity.

Go is an ancient Chinese board game in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. It is renowned for its complexity because of the trillions of possible moves.

The games are taking place each day this week in Seoul at 1pm Korean time (4am GMT), and are being live streamed via YouTube.

'Lee Sedol is the greatest player of the past decade,' Hassabis commented when the match was announced earlier this year. 'I think that would mean AlphaGo would be better than any human at playing Go. Go is the ultimate game in AI research.'

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IBM made headlines when its AI computer Deep Blue defeated chest grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997, but chess only has around 10 to the power of 60 possible ways a game can be played, compared to 10 to the power of 700 possible scenarios in Go.

Suleyman celebrated AlphaGo's victory on social media: 'Huge milestone in AI,' he tweeted. 'AlphaGo beats the world champion Lee Sedol! We made history! What an incredible moment!'

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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