In this handout image provided by Google, South Korean professional Go player Lee Se-Dol (R) puts the first stone against Google's artificial intelligence program, AlphaGo, during the Google DeepMind Challenge Match on March 9, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea.
Google—Getty Images
By Sarah Begley
March 9, 2016

Google’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo, a product of the company’s DeepMind unit, has just marked a significant achievement, beating the legendary Go player Lee Se-dol in a three-and-a-half hour game, the Verge reports.

Go, a Chinese board game that involves placing stones on a board to surround your opponent’s stones, presents a unique challenge to AI, as TIME wrote in January:

Go is simple to play. But it’s deceptively deep and especially complicated for computers. AI programs play chess by constantly mapping out the results of every possible move from any given point in a match. But Go’s sheer number of possible boards—10761—makes that extremely difficult, if not outright impossible to do in a timely fashion.

So it’s a big deal that AlphaGo was able to beat Lee, the first professional player ranked 9-dan (the top rank) it has ever played. “I was very surprised,” he said after the match, according to The Verge. “I didn’t expect to lose. [But] I didn’t think AlphaGo would play the game in such a perfect manner.”

The match was the first in a series of five, so Lee will get the his chance at revenge over the next week.

[The Verge]

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