Google's DeepMind defeats legendary Go player Lee Se-dol in historic victory

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A huge milestone has just been reached in the field of artificial intelligence: AlphaGo, the program developed by Google’s DeepMind unit, has defeated legendary Go player Lee Se-dol in the first of five historic matches being held in Seoul, South Korea. Lee resigned after about three and a half hours, with 28 minutes and 28 seconds remaining on his clock. The series is the first time a professional 9-dan Go player has taken on a computer, and Lee is competing for a $1 million prize.

Go is an ancient Chinese board game that has long been considered one of the great challenges faced by AI. While computer programs now best the world’s leading human players of games like checkers and chess, the high level of intuition and evaluation required by Go has made it tough for computers to crack. DeepMind’s AlphaGo program is the most advanced effort yet, using a complex system of deep neural networks and machine learning; it beat European champion Fan Hui last year, but Lee Se-dol is another proposition entirely.

The Verge is in Seoul for the entire Google DeepMind Challenge Match series — follow our coverage at this dedicated hub, and watch the matches live on YouTube.

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