AlphaGo vs. Lee Se-dol: Game Two

Lee Se-dol (9 dan pro.) conceded another match to AlphaGo, today, in Seoul. Google DeepMind’s lead now stands at two games to none and a straight-sets victory over the human player seems entirely possible. We will have to wait until Saturday to find out.

During the press conference that followed the game, Lee Se-dol admitted that he felt that black, played by AlphaGo, never fell behind or gave him an easy chance at any point during the match and that the programme made moves that he considered entirely reasonable. Reading between the lines, I suspect he even felt some sort of respect for the thing! He attributed his loss to an inability to find the bot’s weaknesses.

Google DeepMind claimed that the A.I. itself was confident of victory for most of the game, particularly during the opening and end-game phases, but that the team behind the scenes were nervous because the opinions of other strong human professionals were widely varied – some predicting that white, Lee Se-dol, would ultimately come out in front.

The development team also claimed that their only role, during the game, was ensuring that the programme had access to the computational resources and infrastructure that it required.

In the coming months, I would dearly like to know more about the level of human intervention that took place behind the scenes, the computational resources that powered the engine, and the learning and improvement that took place between the games of the match.

Personally, I will be cheering for the man who is opposing the machine, on Saturday. AlphaGo has already acquitted itself skilfully and Google DeepMind have already made a smashing début; a close match will be far more satisfying than a clean sweep by the engine.

While we wait to see what transpires in game three, it is time to start considering what AlphaGo’s victories mean for the future of the game of Go itself, the future of professional, competitive play and the future direction of research in the field of Computer Go. Perhaps we should all start reading and remembering the ripples that IBM’s DeepBlue sent through the world of Chess.