Ke vs. Lee or, China and South Korea Vie to Beat AlphaGo

So it’s only a game as they say, but the geopolitical implications seem obvious.  This board game is called Go and I have seen it played in parks around Hanoi, but please don’t ask me to explain it.  But I will quote from a article by a Hong Kong reporter that might help shed some light.  “Go, in which two players vie for control of a board using black and white pieces called stones, is considered complex because of the sheer number of possible moves.  Even supercomputers cannot simply calculate all the possible moves, presenting a big challenge for AlphaGo creators.”  But AlphaGo developers did accept the challenge and created the software that makes this game available online.

So far, AlphaGo seems to be the undisputed “artificial intelligence” champion, only being beaten once by South Korea”s Mr. Lee.  China’s Mr. Ke seems more resigned to only playing against human opponents.  He noted that he would focus more on playing with people saying that the gap between humans was becoming too great.  He would treat the software as more of a teacher, he said, to get inspiration and new ideas about moves.  Or maybe he should say that he has finally met his match, but when his “match” is basically artficial intelligence, it just may be too hard to admit defeat by a software program?  Somehow this all sounds vaguely familiar, like Dr. Frankenstein being outsmarted by his own “monstrous” creation.

AlphaGo is also demonstrating an ability to learn from its gaming experiences.  It is not just calculating moves, but learning from its own experiences.  That is something that we can all benefit from, so that we can remain smarter than our machines, I hope.

Ray Myers 

P.S.  Happy Memorial Day weekend.  Be back on the 31st.

Man vs. Machine – Machine Wins (All the Time?)

Or we can call this, articficial intelligence vs. human intelligence.  Depending on your perspective, this may be either good news or bad news when you hear that the machine seems to be winning all the time.  The game that is being used in this contest is something called “Go,” which I have never played.  It is a game played with round black and white stones, and two players alternately place pieces on a square grid with the goal of occupying the most territory.  So is this really a game anymore since the machine’s “intelligence” never loses?  But maybe I am overreacting, and I should join the ranks of the artificial intelligence advocates and simply admire the ingenuity of designing such a “perfect” Go player/opponent.

I hate to be a poor sport, but what is the point of playing a game when the odds clearly tell you “not a chance.”  This machine will never make a mistake, unlike you.  There are no weaknesses to be exploited, but I guess I am getting too competitive in a very human way.  Maybe I can learn from the machine (after I learn how to play Go first).  I’m sure there must be a computer program that can teach me, so I should at least be thankful for that.  

If you are really interested in all this, Alphabet (Google) will match its AlphaGo program against Leo Sedol, the current Go champion in a five-game match in March streamed live on YouTube.  There will be $1 million prize for the winner (donated to charity if AlphaGo wins).  I hope they pick a needy charity if they have to, and good luck to you too, Mr. Sedol.

Ray Myers