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.

Good Morning Vietnam

I think I’m still a little groggy from my air travel starting in D.C. through China and down to Hanoi.  I arrived here nearly two days ago and managed to meet with some of the senior staff of the company sponsoring my trip here.  Fortunately I did not have to make any formal presentations at this time, but starting tomorrow I will be meeting with Ministry officials who oversee various national educational programs including educational technology.  I have prepared some more formal presentations for several meetings over the next two days.  But I think you might be interested in learning how this all came to pass, I hope.  I have now been retired from government service for nearly two years.

I received this travel invitation via email less than two weeks ago.   During the time I was working in the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Departmen of Education I was fortunate enough to become the international liaison person.  This was pretty much by default since I may have been the only person who was that interested in doing it, so I eagerly assumed this role.  Consequently, I had the opportunity to meet with numerous international visitors and more formal foreign delegations who were interested in learning more about the implementation of educational technology programs in American schools.  One of these visitors was Mr. Kim with the Ministry of Education and Training in Vietnam.  So nearly five years later, he is in a position to extend an invitation to me to visit and advise he and his staff on their work in educational technology across different educational levels.  I gladly accepted his kind in invitation.

In flying over here, I also experienced some of the “politics” of international access to the Internet.  As I already mentioned, I did have some lay-over time at an airport in China.  I was looking forward to catching up on my emails while we were on the ground.  In China, however, as you may have read in one of my recent posts, Google’s gmail and other features are currently inaccessible.  I have read that Google and the Chinese authorities are currently “negotiating” how this situation can be resolved.  I’ll soon find out when I fly home in three weeks.

Ray Myers