I ran into a friend this week who told me I HAD to watch the movie AlphaGo on Netflix. My friend said it was one of the coolest documentaries he had ever seen. Well, I trust that guy, so I cued it up and opened a bottle of wine.
So, first and foremost, it turns out I should be stripped of my czar title because I had never heard to the game Go. Go appears to be the oldest board game and according to the interweb has 20 million-ish active players worldwide. Most of those players live in Eastern Asia, where the game is incredibly popular.
Go is a turn based strategy game in which two players attempt to dominate the board and capture the other players black or white playing pieces called stones. Players put stones onto a grid, a standard game has 19 x 19 grid lines equaling 361 points that stones can be placed on. Go is incredibly complex and even has a ranking system that bears some similarity to martial art’s. Some estimate its complexity as a million trillion times more complex than chess. In Asia, professional players are very popular and games are sometimes televised. Much culture surrounds the game, and so does much attention.
The movie AlphaGo follows a team from Google’s DeepMind who develop an AI program to beat the world’s best player, Lee Sedol. While the movie is fascinating from so many perspectives, what really hit home to me was how truly confident Lee Sedol and at least some of the media were that an AI program could not beat a human. Before the first game, Sedol actually tells the media that he will be playing to preserve humanity. Because the game Go requires such human elements like finesse, emotion, aggressiveness, and humility. Things that players could not accept would be replicated within an algorithm.
In the end the program wins 4 of the 5 matches. Lee is clearly confused and heartbroken. Humanity is lost to AI. GREAT Movie. Watch it. It might be the most compelling example of actual AI I’ve seen.