This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today


Go wins for Google AI program

Go board

Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo programme has won the first two games against Go champion Lee Sedol from South Korea. (Courtesy: iStock/Peerayot)

By Michael Banks

It is a battle between man and machine, but one that has been ultimately won by the brute force of computation.

Yesterday as well as today, Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo program has made a breakthrough in artificial intelligence by defeating Lee Sedol – the current world champion from South Korea – at the game of Go.

Thought to originate in ancient China some 2500 years ago, Go involves two players alternately placing black and white stones on a 19 × 19 grid of lines in a bid to gain the upper hand by surrounding their opponent’s pieces with their own. A player typically has a choice of 200 moves, with apparently more possible positions in Go than atoms in the universe. Its fans include the physics Nobel laureate Philip Anderson, who is a certified first degree master of the game.

DeepMind was created in 2010 by UK artificial intelligence researcher Demis Hassabis and four years later was acquired by Google. Last October DeepMind’s AlphaGo program defeated the European Go champion Fan Hui, winning every game.

In a best of five games, yesterday the programme won the first match against Lee and did the same today, apparently leaving him “speechless” as well as 2-0 down. “AlphaGo played some beautiful creative moves in this game,” Hassabis Tweeted after the second match. “Mega-tense…”

The Korean now has to win the remaining three games to turn the contest around, with the final one being on Tuesday – a tall order indeed.

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Comments are closed.


  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="">IOP</blockquote>
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text