Google AI takes on the world’s Go champion

Lee Sedol is the reigning champion of Go. "Playing against a machine is very different from an actual human opponent," he told the BBC. "Normally, you can sense your opponent’s breathing, their energy. And lots of times you make decisions which are dependent on the physical reactions of the person you’re playing against.
"With a machine, you can’t do that." That’s because emotion and character play a large part of the game. In chess, there are fewer possible permutations because it’s played on a board of eight squares by eight (compared with 19 by 19 on a Go board).
As the British Go Association explains: "At the opening move in chess there are 20 possible moves. In Go, the first player has 361 possible moves.
"This wide latitude of choice continues throughout the game," it adds.
"At each move the opposing player is more likely than not to be surprised at his opponent’s move, and hence he must rethink his own plan of attack. Self-discipline is a major factor in success at this game".
The number of permutations in a game of Go is greater than the number of atoms in the universe, according to the Nature science journal, "so it can’t be solved by algorithms that search exhaustively for the best move".
For this reason, it’s not just a matter of the cold calculus of a computer working out permutations – or so Lee Sedol hopes. But he doesn’t seem sure: "I’ve been telling people that I was certain that I would be the winner of all five matches. But Google – which developed the programme – seems to be quite confident, too".
The game will be Livestreamed on youtube at the link below, starting on March 9: