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AlphaGo wins again

Thursday, 10 March, 2016

Hacker News: “It’s both exciting and eerie. It’s like another intelligent species opening up a new way of looking at the world (at least for this very specific domain). and much to our surprise, it’s a new way that’s more powerful than ours.” The second round of the man vs. machine Go game between the South Korean champion Lee Sedol and AlphaGo amazed even the most enthusiastic artificial intelligence (AI) enthusiasts. “Hard for us to believe. AlphaGo played some beautiful creative moves in this game,” tweeted Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO of Deep Mind, which is now part of Google. After four hours, Lee Sedol conceded, much to the dismay of those who had assumed Go is too complicated to be played expertly by a computer. AI is getting better, faster.

Hacker News: “When I was learning to play Go as a teenager in China, I followed a fairly standard, classical learning path. First I learned the rules, then progressively I learn the more abstract theories and tactics. Many of these theories, as I see them now, draw analogies from the physical world, and are used as tools to hide the underlying complexity (chunking), and enable the players to think at a higher level.

For example, we’re taught of considering connected stones as one unit, and give this one unit attributes like dead, alive, strong, weak, projecting influence in the surrounding areas. In other words, much like a standalone army unit.

These abstractions all made a lot of sense, and feels natural, and certainly helps game play — no player can consider the dozens (sometimes over 100) stones all as individuals and come up with a coherent game play. Chunking is such a natural and useful way of thinking.

But watching AlphaGo, I am not sure that’s how it thinks of the game. Maybe it simply doesn’t do chunking at all, or maybe it does chunking its own way, not influenced by the physical world as we humans invariably do. AlphaGo’s moves are sometimes strange, and couldn’t be explained by the way humans chunk the game.
It’s both exciting and eerie. It’s like another intelligent species opening up a new way of looking at the world (at least for this very specific domain). and much to our surprise, it’s a new way that’s more powerful than ours.”

Background: With more variations than chess, Go is a strategic game that can be played only by pairs of players. It originated in China in the 4th century BC and is said to foster discipline and concentration. It is especially popular in Korean and Japan, where an estimated 10 million Go players take part in competitions.


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