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As a result of AlphaGo’s performance, the AI program from Google’s DeepMind team was given an honorary Go ranking.(Credit: Google DeepMind via @thegoblognet)
As a result of AlphaGo’s performance, the AI program from Google’s DeepMind team was given an honorary Go ranking. (Credit: Google DeepMind via @thegoblognet)

Maybe Lee Sedol can take comfort in the fact that even as machines outperform humans in a growing number of tasks, they still can’t feel sadness.

Sedol’s eyes filled with tears on Monday after the 18-time world grandmaster Go champion lost a fourth and final match to AlphaGo, Google’s artificial intelligence program. The final tally in the week-long, $1 million tournament was 4-1.

“I failed,” Sedol said, according to the Guardian. “I feel sorry that the match is over and it ended like this. I wanted it to end well.”

Here’s something else machines can’t feel: elation. But their programmers certainly can. For Google and the company’s DeepMind team, which created AlphaGo, the victory was an unprecedented showing of AI power and growing sophistication.

AlphaGo’s triumph over one of the world’s best players in the ancient Chinese game of Go, which requires a lot of intuitiveness and creativity, stunned experts, who predicted such an accomplishment was still a long ways off.

Founded in 2010, British-made DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014. DeepMind engineers have built a neural network that learns how to play video games in a way similar to humans. Demis Hassabis, one of DeepMind’s cofounders, cheered the victory, calling it “mind blowing.” As for the future, DeepMind managers said that the company must now review AlphaGo’s performance. Previously, they discussed applying the program in areas such as healthcare and robotics.

AlphaGo wasn’t perfect. On Sunday, Sedol bested the program after losing the first three matches. The tournament was decided then but two consolation games followed. On Monday, AlphaGo made a “bad mistake,” the Guardian reported. Sedol, however, was unable to fend off the program’s rally and after going into overtime, AlphaGo finally prevailed.

Monday’s match was the fifth in the past seven days. It’s not known whether Sedol was fatigued but what is certain is that AlphaGo was not.

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