DeepMind, a British artificial intelligence company that was acquired by Google 2 years ago has in the last few days done something that shouldn’t have been possible for the next 10 years.

AlphaGo, one of DeepMind’s systems has beaten South Korean Lee Sedol at the game ‘Go.’ Three times. The reason that this is such an incredible accomplishment is that unlike Chess, which relies principally  on logic and analytical ability, Go is a game of intuition, in other words AlphaGo needed to be able to reason in order to win. And Lee Sedol is regarded as the very best player of Go in the world.

“The winner here, no matter what happens, is humanity,” Eric Schmidt, Google

The game begins with an empty grid. Players then stake their claims to certain areas of the board by placing their black or white ‘stones’ on the grid in an attempt to surround and capture not only their opponents pieces but also territory. Surrounding and claiming the most space on the board is the aim of the game and the winner is the one with the most territory when the game concludes. The rules are simple but the game is complex as several skirmishes can break out in different areas of the board and an understanding of what your opponent is trying to do is just as important as seeing what they are doing.

AlphaGo beat the best by studying millions of Go games. Sounds simple enough, but that’s not the best bit. The more AlphaGo plays, the better it gets. That’s right, it practices and learns and improves, so it’s not just searching it’s memory for the best moves but is making judgements based on analysis and past experience – just like a human. The difference between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol is that AlphaGo has more knowledge to work off and a better memory.

“I will do my best to play a beautiful and interesting game,” Lee Sedol

This week artificial intelligence took another enormous leap forward and there can be no doubt that huge questions await the A.I. community as, like virtual and augmented reality, this technology inevitably finds it’s way into our daily lives.