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AlphaGo beats humanity again, playing 'like a god of Go'

Google's AI program continues to trample flesh-and-blood champs at the ancient board game.

Ke Jie reacts during go game against Google's AlphaGo.
Go champ Ke Jie reacts during the first match against Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo.
VCG via Getty Images

Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo has bested the current worldwide Go champion, Ke Jie, in the first game of a three-part match.

Demis Hassabis, head of Google-owned AI company DeepMind, said in a tweet Tuesday that AlphaGo "won by just half a point, the closest margin possible."

AlphaGo's prowess at beating human masters of the ancient game has been held up as a demonstration of how computer programs built to think like people can, in some applications, surpass the smarts of mere mortals.

The AI program, developed by DeepMind, made headlines last year when it defeated Lee Se-dol, one of the top Go masters. It has also been secretly playing and beating some of the world's best Go players online earlier this year, entering contests under a pseudonym. While incognito, AlphaGo reportedly beat Ke -- a 19-year-old Chinese prodigy -- twice.

After Tuesday's loss, Ke expressed admiration for AlphaGo's grasp of the game.

"Last year, it was still quite humanlike when it played," Ke said, in a New York Times article. "But this year, it became like a god of Go."