Lee Sedol is literally the greatest human G0 player in the world. Hailing from South Korea, Sedol is the current world champion of the ancient Chinese board game. AlphaGo, an A.I. created by Alphabet-owned DeepMind, is literally the greatest robot Go player in the world. After making mincemeat of similar AIs in innumerable tests and simulated games, AlphaGo managed to pull off a feat that many A.I. firms and researchers had been shooting for over the course of years; It managed to beat a champion human Go player, specifically a national champion. After that, it went on to put the champion of all of Europe’s Go scene to shame an incredible five times in a row. Go, long thought of as a game that is impossible for an A.I. to master due to the billions of possibilities each move brings, had been essentially brought to its knees by an A.I. The implications of this development are staggering, to say the least.
The next logical step, of course, is for AlphaGo to take on the world champion. According to the Twitter account of DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis, that’s exactly what will happen on five separate days in March, the 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th. The A.I. that earned itself an article in renowned science and tech journal Nature and got Google CEO Sundar Pichai bragging on Google’s earnings call is going to clash five times with the greatest Go player currently alive and the whole thing is going to be livestreamed on YouTube. A victory here would be a huge milestone for A.I. tech in general and, in all likelihood, put DeepMind in the history books.
Being defeated by Sedol, on the other hand, would be a bit of an embarrassing end to AlphaGo’s winning streak, perhaps driving other A.I. firms to up their game and attempt to beat Google to the prize. Naturally, this would also elevate Sedol’s already widespread fame. According to Sedol, a crushing defeat is exactly what’s in store for AlphaGo. In an official statement, Sedol exuded confidence when he said, “I have heard that Google DeepMind’s AI is surprisingly strong and getting stronger, but I am confident that I can win at least this time,”. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that these matches will be the closest benchmark possible to the power of gray matter versus the raw processing and cognitive power harnessed by an advanced A.I. Naturally, Go enthusiasts the world over and a huge segment of the tech world will be watching these man and machine clashes with bated breath.