Rise of the machines: Google AI takes the series with 3 straight wins

March 12, 2016
Lee Se-dol just cannot solve Google's AlphaGo. (Yonhap)

Lee Se-dol just cannot solve Google’s AlphaGo. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) program AlphaGo celebrated its third consecutive victory against South Korean Go player Lee Se-dol on Saturday, heralding another win for machines against mankind.

In their third showdown at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, AlphaGo, the AI designed by Google’s London-based firm DeepMind, collected another win. The self-learning program had already won two games of the five-round tournament earlier this week.

Lee is a ninth-dan player who went pro at the age of 12, and has won 18 international events. European champion Fan Hui, a second-dan player, was defeated by AlphaGo last October, during which the AI earned a 5-0 victory.

Go, known as “baduk” in Korea, originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. It involves two players alternately putting black and white stones on a checkerboard-like grid of 19 lines by 19 lines. The object is to claim larger territories than one’s opponent by surrounding vacant areas of the board using one’s own stones.

Go has been viewed as one of the hardest games for computers to master. Google said the possible number of board configurations of Go is larger than the number of atoms in the universe.

Taking a lesson from previous games, experts said Lee sought an aggressive strategy to take the lead against AlphaGo during Saturday’s game.

Lee Hyeon-wook, an eighth-dan player, also said the South Korean player struggled to maintain aggressive stances, unlike his typical style.