Tag Go

Posts: 6

Go Master Quits, AI too powerful

I just read that Lee Sedol is retiring from the competitive Go world because of AlphaGo.

The South Korean said he had decided to retire after realizing: "I'm not at the top even if I become the number one."

This is a bit sad but understandable. I wrote about Lee's historic match with AlphaGo a while ago. He ended up losing four matches out of five, which was an ass-kicking for the #1 Go player in the world. Just think about it, AlphaGo from Deepmind is just getting better and better.

What is Go?

If this is the first time you're reading about Go, then you probably don't understand the importance of this particular AI beating a world champion. Go (aka Weiqi) is an ancient Chinese game that is about getting territory on a board made of 361 intersections.

You place these black and white stones at the intersections and then build 'territory.' The person who has the most territory after all moves are complete (or resigns), is the winner.

Wikipedia defines it:

Go is an abstract strategy board game for two players, in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. The game was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago and is believed to be the oldest board game continuously played to the present day. A 2016 survey by the International Go Federation's 75 member nations found that there are over 46 million people worldwide who know how to play Go and over 20 million current players, the majority of whom live in East Asia.

It's been said that the combinations of Go moves is greater than the amount of atoms in the universe. I'm not sure if that's correct but the lower estimate of moves is somewhere around 2 × 10^170. So you can understand why AlphaGo beating a human is so powerful.

I've played it a bit of Go over the years and got to about 14 Kyu level. I don't play competitively but I enjoyed a few friendly games and have played against a few Dan level players. They expertly wiped the board with me with such grace and humility. It was a thing of beauty to see how they lead me into traps 20 and 30 moves ahead.

Why you should play Go

I recommend that every parent expose their kids to both Chess and Go, these type of games are awesome for strategic thinking and teaching patience. I believe it helps wire their brains in ways that become apparent years later.

I don't get much time to play Go now, but perhaps over upcoming holidays I might play a game online or with my children. If you wanted to try it out, go check out the KGS Server or buy a simple board from Amazon. Let me know how you like it.


Where Computers Defeat Us and Where They Don't

After AlphaGo won 4 to 1 against Lee Sedol, the world is a buzz with excitement and fear of AI. Although we're still a long way from the "rise of the machines," but we are getting closer.

AlphaGo does use simulations and traditional search algorithms to help it decide on some moves, but its real breakthrough is its ability to overcome Polanyi’s Paradox. It did this by figuring out winning strategies for itself, both by example and from experience. The examples came from huge libraries of Go matches between top players amassed over the game’s 2,500-year history. To understand the strategies that led to victory in these games, the system made use of an approach known as deep learning, which has demonstrated remarkable abilities to tease out patterns and understand what’s important in large pools of information. via NY Times

Polanyi's Paradox states that we humans know more than we can tell, which is really our tacit knowledge. For the longest time AI couldn't do that, couldn't know more than what it can tell. It just relied on hard rules and brute force computations. AlphaGo changed all that.

For the first time ever, AI is breaking through the paradox, which is cool and scary at the same time. Once AI can figure out how to reprogram itself or make better machines than we can design, we'll be in trouble.


AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol

Lots of great videos on YouTube of the match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol. I consider these historic because this level of AI is almost humanlike in its thinking of playing the game. Wikipedia has a great summary of the first 4 games. It's AlphaGo 3 wins, Lee 1 win.

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

Game 5


AI Overloads look to beat Go champion

In case you've been living under a rock, Google's Deepmind is about to make AI history. Google developed AlphaGo, a deep learning program, to challenge Lee Sedol.

Lee Sedol is an 18 time world champion and AlphaGo is beating the pants off him. AlphaGo just won it's 3rd game (out of 5) and it's looking like it will sweep all 5 games.

I'm quite astounded and amazed. Just two years ago I told Ingo that I thought it wouldn't happen for decades, but he had more faith in AI research and development than I did. In fact he reminded me of it! :)

Perhaps the best comment about this is what Greg Piatetsky of KD Nugget opined. Betting against AI is a losing bet, it's just a matter of time before it can solve any problem.


Hikaru No Go - Boom in Japan

I want to teach my kids how to play Go when they get old enough because I think its a good to get them to think about strategy, patience, and game psychology early on. I found it interesting that a comic book started Go's resurgence in Japan. I wonder what it would take to do so here?

Keep an eye for the kid playing the really old man. I found it interesting that this game matches your ability, not your age.