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(LEAD) S. Korean Go player 'surprised' after losing to computer

All Headlines 18:57 March 09, 2016

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SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Go player Lee Se-dol admitted to feeling "surprised" after losing the first match of the five-game showdown against computer on Wednesday.

"I didn't think I'd lose, and I was quite surprised," Lee told a press conference in Seoul after succumbing to Google's artificial intelligence (AI) program, AlphaGo.

Lee said two things about AlphaGo surprised him: Its ability to start the game smoothly, and its keymove.

"I thought today's match was going to be difficult for both of us," he said. "There was a keymove which humans wouldn't have thought about making, but I was surprised it actually did it."

Lee, letting out a resigned laugh, said he made mistakes early on and failed to recover.

The 33-year-old ninth-dan player, who's been professional for more than two decades, paid "deep respect" to Demis Hassabis, the CEO of Google's London-based AI company DeepMind, which developed AlphaGo.

"Of course, we are very pleased on AlphaGo's performance," Hassabis said. "Before we came into this match, we thought anything is possible, and that's still on."

David Silver, the team leader of the reinforcement learning research at Google DeepMind, said he expects that the match against Lee will further push the self-learning program.

"This is very historical moment," he said. "He really pushed AlphaGo to its limit."

Fellow professional Go players were also shocked like Lee. They said AlphaGo did made mistakes, but its playing style was still challenging.

"It didn't play like a human," said Kim Seong-ryong, a ninth-dan Go player who commentated the match. "It's really interesting that AlphaGo throughout the game keeps its cool even if it makes mistakes."

Lee will get his crack at a victory Thursday. He and AlphaGo will go head-to-head on Saturday, Sunday and finally next Tuesday.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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