Korean Go champion Lee Sedol has retired:
The South Korean Go champion Lee Sedol has retired from professional play, telling Yonhap news agency that his decision was motivated by the ascendancy of AI.
“With the debut of AI in Go games, I’ve realized that I’m not at the top even if I become the number one through frantic efforts,” Lee told Yonhap. “Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated.”
2016 Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind shocked the world by defeating Sedol four matches to one with its AlphaGo AI system.
AlphaGo surprised the world with its so-called “move 37,” which human experts initially thought was a mistake, but which proved decisive in game two.
Lee made his own impact with his “hand of God” play (move 78), which flummoxed the AI program and allowed Lee to win Game 4.
He remains the only human to ever defeat AlphaGo in tournament settings.
After his fourth-match victory, Lee was overjoyed: “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so good after winning just one match. I remember when I said I will win all or lose just one game in the beginning. If this had really happened ― I won 3 rounds and lost this round ― it would have had a great bearing on my reputation. However, since I won after losing 3 games in a row, I am so happy. I will never exchange this win for anything in the world.”
Lee Sedol turned pro in 1995 as 1 dan, and reached 9 dan in 2003
18 victories in international competitions and 32 victories in domestic events
One more for the Road:
Sedol plans to celebrate his retirement in December with a final match against an AI Go competitor—HanDol, built by South Korea tech firm NHN Entertainment. Sedol will start the game with a 2 stone handicap.
“Even with a two-stone advantage, I feel like I will lose the first game to HanDol,” he told Yonhap, already dejected. “I wanted to play comfortably against HanDol as I have already retired, though I will do my best.”