Yet, the little toddler program developed by Google's artificial intelligence arm, Deep Mind, barely even three years old, has now managed to take down not one, not two, but three different champions.
"I think everyone recognizes that Ke Jie is the strongest human player", Michael Redmond, 9th-dan professional and commentator, told reporters before the game started. After four and a half hours' of tough play today, Ke lost the first game by mere 1.5 points to the AI program.
Ke had closely studied AlphaGo's strategy and tried to use some of the AI's unconventional tactics against it during his match, opening the game with a couple of moves that are seldom used by human players.
AlphaGo was initially taught to play through sheer experience learned by a large volume of games. In the pair Go match, Chinese Go player Gu Li will compete with the other player Lian Xiao on May 26, with each pairing up with his AlphaGo teammate.
While playing down expectations of the outcome, he stressed that humanity's trumph over the machine is in the game's intangible magic, instead of the bits and bytes.More news: Trump told Russians that firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him
Go, most popular in countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, involves two contestants moving black and white stones across a square grid, aiming to seize the most territory. After last year's win, DeepMind was impressed with AlphaGo's creative moves which "were so surprising they overturned hundreds of years of received wisdom" in the game. As was pointed out by former Microsoft and Google China executive Kaifu Lee, the result of the battle between Ke and the updated AlphaGo actually has no other possibility.
This is the latest showdown between elite human Go players and AlphaGo, which defeated South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol 4-1 at a match in March 2016.
In January this year AlphaGo achieved the ranking of No. 2 when playing under the pseudonym "Master" took on and beat top ranked players, being undefeated in 60 games. I can't feel its love and passion for Go.
Unlike Lee Sedol, who didn't really know what to expect from AlphaGo, Ke Jie was more prepared for this match.
Hassabis of DeepMind spoke in a greeting before the match about the broad applicability of the AI technology powering AlphaGo.
AlphaGo "is after all a cold machine, and I can not see its passion and its enthusiasm" for the game, he said. According to Google there are more potential positions in a Go game than atoms in the universe. The Go competition will be part of the "Future of Go Summit" which is being conducted by Google, while the grand finale is set for Saturday.