AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, My Thoughts

The world just changed.

I watched all five games of the DeepMind challenge match between AlphaGo and Go Grandmaster Lee Sedol. I started out neutral in Game 1, was pleased with AlphaGo’s performance–that it stood up to the task. 

Game 2 had me firmly in AlphaGo’s camp. I wanted AlphaGo to win.

Then came Game 3 and I was again neutral.  But, when AlphaGo won, something hit me: the world had just changed, and not just the world of Go. There was a sadness, but, then, a day later, there was joy. too, at what mankind had built.  But the implications were and are huge. Still, I was pleased in Game 4 when Lee Sedol rallied and defeated AlphaGo.

But Game 5 had to go to AlphaGo. It had to.


Because, if AlphaGo hadn’t won, then the question would remain open–had the DeepMind team really succeeded, or was AlphaGo just another failed attempt.

That Lee Sedol failed to defeat AlphaGo in a heroic attempt to do so (that included using the flaw he discovered in its programming during Game 4) demonstrated that, yes, DeepMind had accomplished the breakthrough in AI that has been long sought. Bravo. And, while I feel for Lee Sedol, I think what will be the reality is that AI will, at Go, only be able to defeat top Go players 50% of the time, at least in the foreseeable future.

So, the game of Go will get even more interesting, the skills and understanding increasing because of AlphaGo, and mankind will benefit from technology’s advance, technology mankind developed to enhance and expand our own capabilities. How awesome is that?!  Of course, meanwhile, we have political, economic, and environmental disasters teetering on the brink of damning all but those most well-insulated, if them.

What an interesting time we live in.