Google's Artificial Intelligence System Set to Battle 'Go' World Champion

PHOTO:Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google owner Alphabet, speaks during a press conference ahead of the Google DeepMind Challenge Match in Seoul, March 8, 2016. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images
Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google owner Alphabet, speaks during a press conference ahead of the Google DeepMind Challenge Match in Seoul, March 8, 2016.

Google's artificial intelligence system is set to take on the world champion of "Go" -- a game with trillions of possible moves -- in a live showdown that will be streamed on YouTube.

If Google's AlphaGo computer program pulls off an upset against world champion Lee Sedol in a best-of-five tournament, it will be one of the biggest feats in artificial intelligence since IBM's Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess in 1997.

The series will be live streamed from South Korea via YouTube, with the first match happening tonight at 11 p.m. ET. The series is scheduled to last until March 15, with each game expected to last four to five hours.

Go, a board game that was played in ancient China, pits two players against each other. The players take turns placing black or white stones on a grid, with the object of dominating the board by surrounding the other player's pieces. The stones can't be moved unless they are surrounded or are captured by the other player.

Google said in January its program won 99.8 percent of games against other programs designed to play Go -- giving it a nearly perfect record.

While computers can now compete at the grand master level in chess, teaching a machine to win at Go has presented a unique challenge since the game has trillions of possible moves. It's estimated there are 10 to the power of 700 ways a game of Go could be played. By comparison, chess has around 10 to the power of 60 possibilities, according to researchers.

A $1 million price is at stake in the tournament.