READY, SET,(Alpha)GO!

Film: AlphaGo (Greg Kohls, 2017).

Electronic Sports is a Booming Global Industry which has transformed the realm of online gaming into a spectator sport (Chapman 2018). Over 380 million people watch Esports worldwide both online, and in person (Chapman 2018).  

‘Go’ is a two-player abstract, strategic board game that was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago. It is believed to be one of the oldest board games continuously played to this day. Like many old school games, with the rise of the internet, Go transitioned to an online computer program. Deepmind Technologies created a platform where players can compete virtually with artificial intelligence. 

Greg Kohl’s 2017 documentary, Alphago explores how the Artificial Intelligence Program AlphaGo eventually defeated one of the world champion Go players, Lee Sedol in 2016. 

I found this viewing to be mind blowing! It’s hard for me to even comprehend that initially the computer program was smart enough to play at the level of human amateurs considering the complex and technical nature of the game. According to Deepmind, there are an astonishing 10 to the power of 170 possible board configurations – more than the number of atoms in the known universe (DeepMind 2018). 

Not to mention how impossible it is to comprehend that AlphaGo eventually became the best Go player of all time. I enjoyed hearing about the actual science of how Artificial Intelligence was trained to play Go. AlphaGo was introduced to amateur games to develop an understanding of human play. It then played against versions of itself thousands of times, each time learning from it’s mistakes. 

I can barely fathom that in this gaming instance, AI was smarter than a human… yet humans created the AI in the first place. This viewing really prompted me to think about some of the ethical issues of AI, not just in gaming, but also in general. According to the World Economic Forum, human dominance and humans being at the top of the food chain is almost entirely due to our intelligence. Our ability to create and use tools to control bigger, faster, stronger animals is what makes us superior. Which begs the question; will artificial intelligence one day, have the same grip over us? If this does happen, “we can’t rely on just ‘pulling the plug’ either, because a sufficiently advanced machine may anticipate this move and defend itself” (World Economic Forum 2016). 

It seems it’s a very real possibility that one day human beings might not be the smartest beings on earth. SCARY!

References: 

DeepMind, (2018). AlphaGo. Available at: https://deepmind.com/research/case-studies/alphago-the-story-so-far

World Economic Forum (2016) Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/top-10-ethical-issues-in-artificial-intelligence/

Chapman (2018) Available at: https://www.toptal.com/finance/market-research-analysts/esports

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