This is nothing to scoff at. Go is an ancient Chinese board game that's considered to be more complex than chess, and there's arguably none better at it than Sedol, at least when it comes to flesh and blood opponents. But AlphaGo proved up to the challenge and now has Sedol on the ropes—just one more victory for AlphaGo and the $1 million prize that's up for grabs will be donated to UNICEF, STEM, and Go societies.
In the first match, which took place earlier this week at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, South Korea, Sedol tried tripping up AlphaGo by coming out aggressive. He gave AlphaGo all it could handle, with Google's computer taking nearly all of the time it was allotted to analyze its moves while Sedol had nearly 30 minutes remaining.
"I am in shock, I admit that, but what's done is done," Sedol stated after the first game. "I enjoyed the game and look forward to the next. I think I failed on the opening layout so if I do a better job on the opening aspect, I think I will be able to increase my probability of winning."
#AlphaGo wins match 2, to take a 2-0 lead!! Hard for us to believe. AlphaGo played some beautiful creative moves in this game. Mega-tense...— Demis Hassabis (@demishassabis) March 10, 2016
Instead of evening the series, it was AlphaGo that "made a number of creative movies that surprised the expert commentators," according to Google. For the second match, both AlphaGo and Sedol used the entirety of their two hours of time, which took them into byo-yomi overtime. At that point, each opponent had just 60 seconds to make a move.
"I was impressed with AlphaGo’s play. There was a great beauty to the opening. Based on what I had seen from its other games, AlphaGo was always strong in the end and middle game, but that was extended to the beginning game this time. It was a beautiful, innovative game," said Michael Redmond, an American commentator.
Sedol agreed with Redmond's assessment.
"Yesterday I was surprised but today it's more than that, I am speechless," Sedol told reporters after the match. "I admit that it was a very clear loss on my part. From the very beginning of the game I did not feel like there was a point that I was leading."
Lee is an 18-time world champion in Go. This is the first time that an AI system has been able to compete at such a high level, and barring what now looks like an unlikely comeback, it's going to emerge victorious. All five games will be played out regardless, though the question is starting to shift towards whether Sedol can win even just a single game against AlphaGo. That's not a knock against Sedol, but a validation of AlphaGo and DeepMind.