AlphaGo (BetaGo?) Returns

Written by: Stephen Hsu

Primary Source:  Information Processing

Rumors over the summer suggested that AlphaGo had some serious problems that needed to be fixed — i.e., whole lines of play that it pursued poorly, despite its thrashing of one of the world’s top players in a highly publicized match. But tuning a neural net is trickier than tuning, for example, an expert system or more explicitly defined algorithm…

AlphaGo (or its successor) has quietly returned, shocking the top players in the world.

Fortune: In a series of unofficial online games, an updated version of Google’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence has compiled a 60-0 record against some of the game’s premier players. Among the defeated, according to the Wall Street Journal, were China’s Ke Jie, reigning world Go champion.

The run follows AlphaGo’s defeat of South Korea’s Lee Se-dol in March of 2016, in a more official setting and using a previous version of the program.

The games were played by the computer through online accounts dubbed Magister and Master—names that proved prophetic. As described by the Journal, the AI’s strategies were unconventional and unpredictable, including moves that only revealed their full implications many turns later. That pushed its human opponents into deep reflections that mirror the broader questions posed by computer intelligence.

“AlphaGo has completely subverted the control and judgment of us Go players,” wrote Gu Li, a grandmaster defeated by the program, in an online post. “When you find your previous awareness, cognition and choices are all wrong, will you keep going along the wrong path or reject yourself?”

Another Go player, Ali Jabarin, described running into Ke Jie after he had been defeated by the program. According to Jabarin, Jie was “a bit shocked . . . just repeating ‘it’s too strong’.”

As originally reported in the Wall Street Journal:

WSJ: A mysterious character named “Master” has swept through China, defeating many of the world’s top players in the ancient strategy game of Go.

Master played with inhuman speed, barely pausing to think. With a wide-eyed cartoon fox as an avatar, Master made moves that seemed foolish but inevitably led to victory this week over the world’s reigning Go champion, Ke Jie of China. …

Master revealed itself Wednesday as an updated version of AlphaGo, an artificial-intelligence program designed by the DeepMind unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

AlphaGo made history in March by beating South Korea’s top Go player in four of five games in Seoul. Now, under the guise of a friendly fox, it has defeated the world champion.

It was dramatic theater, and the latest sign that artificial intelligence is peerless in solving complex but defined problems. AI scientists predict computers will increasingly be able to search through thickets of alternatives to find patterns and solutions that elude the human mind.

Master’s arrival has shaken China’s human Go players.

“After humanity spent thousands of years improving our tactics, computers tell us that humans are completely wrong,” Mr. Ke, 19, wrote on Chinese social media platform Weibo after his defeat. “I would go as far as to say not a single human has touched the edge of the truth of Go.” …

We are witness to the psychological shock of a species encountering, for the first time, an alien and superior intelligence. See also The Laskers and the Go Master.

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Stephen Hsu
Stephen Hsu is vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab. Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions to genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security. Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world.
Stephen Hsu

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