SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Google’s artificially intelligent Go-playing computer system has claimed victory in its historic match with Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol after winning a third straight game in this best-of-five series. This Google creation is known as AlphaGo, and with its three-games-to-none triumph, the machine has earned Google a million dollars in prize money, which the company will donate to charity. But the money is merely an afterthought.

Machines have conquered the last games. Now comes the real world.
Over the last twenty-five years, machines have beaten the top humans at checkers and chess and Othello and Scrabble and Jeopardy!. But this is the first time an artificially intelligent system has topped one of the very best at Go, which is exponentially more complex than chess and requires an added level of intuition—at least among humans. This makes the win a major milestone for AI—a moment whose meaning extends well beyond a single game. Considering that many of the machine learning technologies at the heart of AlphaGo are already running services inside some of the world’s largest Internet companies, the victory shows how quickly AI will progress in the years to come.


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Mithilesh Joshi