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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.


Some Time Off

I took some time off this weekend camping with the boy and his Scout Troop. We had a great time and it was good to get out there and 'rough it.' This wasn't a real roughing it type of camping but more of a car camping event. Still, we slept outside in tents in 32F degree weather.

It's always good to get out of your comfort zone from time to time. Not just professionally and work-wise, but life-wise. You never fully realize how it can change your mindset.


The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

I have news.

I've been mulling around the idea for this post for the last two years, ever since I joined RapidMiner. The journey at RapidMiner has been and continues to be fantastic. In those short two years I've worn many hats there, I started as a Pre-Sales Solutions Consultant, then moved to a Sales Engineer role, and now I'm Marketing Data Scientist. I've made the move from Sales to Marketing and my chips remain all in.

But...change is inevitable.

In my new role, I will be responsible for curation and generation of great new content for RapidMiner, something that I'm fluent with after blogging for many years. My Tutorials page is the most visited page here and my YouTube videos - although outdated - still get a A LOT of mileage. The fact that people have learned how to use RapidMiner from my videos brings a smile to my face, every time I think about that.

Ok? So what am I getting at?

The Pivot!

Welcome to the Pivot. I will no longer be generating Tutorials or Videos about RapidMiner here, rather that stuff will live at the RapidMiner. We've recently relaunched our Community and we'll be organizing all kinds of content (videos, white papers, tips and tricks, etc) through the RapidMiner portal.

This makes complete sense from an organizational perspective but it will come at a price to this site. I fully expect my readership, views and interaction to dwindle as people begin to migrate to the RapidMiner portal.

I'm completely OK with that. Yes, seriously.

So what does this mean for this blog? Will it shut down? Nope, Neural Market Trends will continue, my Tutorial page will remain up, but I will be changing the focus of this blog. I've already alluded to to this in my About section. I want to start sharing more thoughts and experiences around my journey in the startup, marketing and sales worlds. I feel like I can contribute and help a lot of people by sharing what I've learned. All the good and the bad.

Yes it feels scary to make such a pivot but you have to kick yourself out of the comfort zone to grow. I look forward to this new direction and I hope you're as excited as I am.

Above all and once again, thank you to all who made this blog what it was and what it will become. Thanks to everyone that has commented, watched a tutorial video, emailed me their thoughts, or met me at some function. It really means a lot to me.