Google's AlphaGo AI beats human Go champion

A Google artificial intelligence algorithm on Tuesday inched closer to once again claiming the title of world champion of the ancient Chinese game of Go, besting its human opponent in the first match of a best-of-three championship.

The algorithm, called AlphaGo, is the brainchild of DeepMind, the artificial intelligence research arm of Google parent company Alphabet. It faced off against 19-year old Kie Jie, who is the current human world champion of Go, a strategy game similar to chess that requires players to place black or white stones on a board and capture the opponent's pieces or surround empty spaces to build territories.

"Last year, it was still quite humanlike when it played," Mr. Ke told the New York Times after AlphaGo's win on Tuesday. "But this year, it became like a god of Go."

If the algorithm wins a second game, it will be the second time it has stolen the Go crown from a human opponent. Last year, AlphaGo defeated the previous world champ Lee Sedol in Seoul, Korea. That tournament was a five-game series that saw AlphaGo win the first three matches, although the tournament continued just for fun, with Sedol making a comeback in game four only to be defeated again in the final match.

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Go is a strategy game, and its players—human or otherwise—must frequently adapt and adjust to their opponents' moves. That makes it an ideal challenge for artificial intelligence, which can use machine learning techniques to avoid repeating its own past mistakes, as well as those of its human competitors, as DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis noted during Tuesday's match.

"Ke Jie is using the ideas AlphaGo used in the master series of online games in January against AlphaGo," Hassabis tweeted. "Intriguing to see what it will do."

In the end, the algorithm ended up beating Jie by just half a point, which suggests that the outcome of the final two matches is anyone's guess.

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