Go champion quits because of "unbeatable" AI

Despite beating DeepMind's AlphaGo in 2016, Lee Se-Dol doesn't think a human can do it again

One of the greatest players of the Chinese strategy game Go has decided to retire because artificial intelligence "cannot be defeated". 

Lee Se-dol, who announced his retirement last week, is the only human to ever beat an AI Go player. He said his decision was primarily motivated by the invincibility of the technology. 

In 2016, Lee scored one victory in a five-match showdown against AlphaGo, the software developed by Google-owned DeepMind

The Korean started playing at the age of five, turning pro at 12 and spent most of his career at the top of the game. But Lee suggested being the number one human wasn't good enough anymore. 

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"With the debut of AI in Go games, I've realised that I'm not at the top even if I become the number one through frantic efforts," he said in an interview with South Korea's Yonhap News Agency

"Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated." 

Go originated in China and has been in existence for 3,000 years. It's a board game that revolves around a 19-by-19 grid where two players use black or white stones to take control of the territory on the board; it's considered more complex than chess. 

AlphaGo's victory in 2016 was considered a landmark moment for reinforcement learning - a particular strand of AI that learns from its environment. It repeated the feat a year later by beating its second world champion Ke Jie in 2017

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"On behalf of the whole AlphaGo team at DeepMind, I'd like to congratulate Lee Se-dol for his legendary decade at the top of the game, and wish him the very best for the future," said Demis Hassabis, chief executive of DeepMind, according to the BBC.

"During the AlphaGo matches, he demonstrated true warrior spirit and kept us on the edges of our seats to the very end."

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