Google’s AlphaGo beat world champion Lee Sedol in Go

Google’s AlphaGo world champion Lee Sedol in Go

Google’s AlphaGo is a Super Computer programmed by Google.

On Saturday in South Korea, a Google computerized reasoning system named AlphaGo beat title holder Lee Sedol in Go, an old and complex table game in which technique and strategies slam into instinct and crafty.

The Google DeepMind Challenge, which has taken place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, has drawn tens of thousands of online spectators who have followed the matches live on YouTube. Streams of the software versus wetware competition have received more than 3 million views since the contest started on Wednesday. Though Lee has officially lost the best-of-five contest, he will play one more match to establish a final score in the face-off, which ends Tuesday.

The public interest wasn’t piqued solely by the popular game, which is played widely in Japan, China and Korea. For many, Google’s success raises questions about how the relationship between man and machine will evolve. After all, if Google’s software can win a game that hinges on little more than feel, won’t it someday be able to do something less complex, like your job?

Not anytime soon, say computer scientists. Despite their fast advances, robots remain too woefully single-minded to give humanity a giant pink slip.

Oren Etzioni, the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, says teaching computers to read and then answer questions about that content is still a work in progress. For example, when Etzioni had computers read eighth-grade science texts, they could answer only about 60 percent of the questions on a test.