Monday, 14 March 2016

Go Lee Go

Lee Se-dol (right) competing against AlphaGo on Sunday
We are relieved to hear South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-dol was able to finally beat AlphaGo in the fourth round of five games yesterday.

Lee has been competing against the Google-developed supercomputer, and he lost the first three games last week.

But on Sunday the 33-year-old won a surprise victory in a nail-biting match that lasted nearly five hours.

"This one win is so valuable and I will not trade this for anything in the world," Lee, one of the best Go players in the world, said with a smile after entering the post-match news conference in a Seoul hotel to applause from journalists.

AlphaGo's victory in one of the first three matches
In the first match last Wednesday, Lee was stunned by the supercomputer's performance.

"I was shocked by the result. AlphaGo made some moves that no human would ever make. It really surprised me," he said.

AlphaGo uses algorithms to allow it to learn and improve from match play experience.

On Wednesday, the CEO of AlphaGo Demis Hassabis, was very excited by how the supercomputer had performed.

It follows the time when IBM developed supercomputer Deep Blue that in 1997 beat chess champion Gary Kasparov.

However, critics felt Go is a more complex game than chess, as the former has an almost incalculable number of move options, meaning that the computer must be capable of human-like "intuition" to win.

Pitting man against computer seems unfair -- humans have to be psychologically focused, whereas computers have no distractions. And as Lee said, AlphaGo did make moves he didn't think any human would have done.

CEO of AlphaGo Demis Hassabis
That sounds... shocking, but at the same time not surprising. After all, AlphaGo is a machine.

Several years ago when I was in Beijing, I had the chance to learn Go -- from a laowai. It was a casual Go club that he started in his apartment, and there was a mix of Chinese and other foreigners there on a weekday evening.

He taught me the basics, that the main aim of the game is to surround the opponent to prevent them from escaping. It was kind of like chess, but the pieces could pretty much move anywhere within one step.

After my first lesson, one of my Chinese colleague asked to play with me to see what I'd learned. She wasn't paying attention because I quickly beat her!

My one and only victory...

That's nothing compared to what Lee is going through. We wish him the best of luck in the final game of the series! Add oil!

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