08 November 2016

Quartz: “Google’s AI won the game Go by defying millennia of basic human instinct”

The AlphaGo-Lee Sedol matchup was an intense contest between human and artificial intelligence. But it also contained several moves made by both man and machine that were outlandish, brilliant, creative, foolish, and even beautiful. Deconstructing the gameplay helps explain why AlphaGo’s achievement is even more notable than it may seem on the surface and points to a fascinating future for AI.

Lee went on to win the fourth game. AlphaGo regained its composure to win the fifth and take the match, 4–1. But that brief moment of unusual and effective strategizing by Lee demonstrated that the true value of artificial intelligence reaches far beyond the simplistic narrative of man versus machine. Instead, AI’s potential may be in teaching humans new ways of thinking for ourselves.

Joon Ian Wong & Nikhil Sonnad

AlphaGo’s victory in March was surprising for many, generating a number of over-enthusiastic articles and predications. But I think the best takeaway is simply the one stated here: given the complexity of the game – indeed even AlphaGo doesn’t evaluate every possible consequence of a move, relying on heuristics to determine the most likely outcomes – there are numerous styles of play that haven’t been explored until now. Since AlphaGo doesn’t come with the human ‘baggage’ of relying on the experience of previous players, it can experiment with new solutions and so the competition between human and artificial minds can uncover different strategies that were previously ignored. It will be interesting to follow the developments, especially since the CEO of DeepMind announced on Twitter new games for next year, but I don’t think we can easily generalize these results to the entire AI field.

AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol Game 4
The game plan they came up appeared to be to try a type of ‘amashi strategy’, which is among the more extreme styles of play

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