Google's AI Has Won Its First Match Against Go World Champion Lee Sedol

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In the first of a series of matches, Google Deepmind’s powerful artificial intelligence AlphaGo has beaten the world champion of Go, Lee Sedol.

The match between Sedol and DeepMind—in fact the first of five—was broadcast live on YouTube beginning March 9th. According to Google, it was a “close first game.” AlphaGo won by resignation after 186 moves, in a game that “looked to be neck-and-neck for its entirety, filled with complex fighting on both sides,” according to Google.

The overall winner of the five-game series will walk away with $1 million. AlphaGo already beat the three-time European Go champion Fan Hui over the course of five matches, but Sedol is largely considered to be a much harder challenge, having dominated the world of Go for much of his professional career. Speaking after the game, Sedol explained:

I would like to express my respect to [the Deepmind] team for making such an amazing program like AlphaGo. I am surprised by this result. But I did enjoy the game and am looking forward to the next one.


The whole event is reminiscent of the 1996 chess match between chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue computer. But the challenge for the AI is a harder one: There are a staggering 1o700 possible board situations for Go, and just 1o60 for chess.

Whether he can win this set of games remains to be seen—but first impressions aren’t positive for the human contender.