Go Lee Sedol!

Go, according to Wikipedia, is a 2,500-year-old Chinese game "and is one of the oldest board games played today."{i} With relatively simple rules,{ii} Go, nonetheless, produces a game of exceptional complexity, using black and white playing pieces, called "stones" on a board with 19x19 grid lines. The current Go champion is a South Korean named Lee Sedol.{iii}

I'd never heard of Lee Sedol, or Go, for that matter, until I read today that Lee Sedol just got beat playing Go with a Google supercomputer.{iv} Artificial Intelligence-1; Human Being-0. The bad news is, the best guy on the planet at Go just lost to a bunch of mindless circuits (if you've got time, you can watch the match on YouTube{v}.) The good news is, there are 5 total games to be played over the next week, so there's hope.

Go was chosen as an appropriate test of human vs. machine for this Google DeepMind Challenge because "the game depends hugely on intuition, since there are so many possibilities, and so mastery of the game was previously thought to be a human skill."{vi}

DeepMind, acquired by Google in 2014, says "The algorithms we build are capable of learning for themselves directly from raw experiences or data . . . " Their goal is to "Solve Intelligence" and "use it to make the world a better place."{vii} Thus was born AlphaGo that just beat Lee Sedol. I'm not convinced that qualifies as making the world a better place. To my, limited, mind, the jury's still out.

The working theory used to be, at least as I remember, that, yes, computers were great at solving problems but only those that required sheer computing power - shifting through millions of potential results until it found the pearl of great price (like in the movie "The Imitation Game" about the allies breaking the German Enigma Code{viii}.) In that movie, the computer is given a human name, "Christopher" by its inventor, Alan Turing. Sixty years later, computers are taking on more than human names; they are taking on human characteristics.

In an aptly named article I found entitled, "Five Creepiest Advances in Artificial Intelligence, " author Anna Lemind chronicles experiments which produced: a supercomputer that became schizophrenic due to information overload; a group of robots that learned how to cheat and deceive all on their own; robots that learned to refuse to help each other in order to improve their own positions; a supercomputer, given the entire expanse of human history and experience to explore, that ended up becoming fixated on images of kittens; and Nautilus, a supercomputer using newspaper articles from 1945 forward that produced "surprisingly accurate guesses" when asked to prognosticate the future.{ix}

I wonder what Nautilus would predict, after reading articles about the Google DeepMind Challenge and how that's going. Lee Sedol said, before the match, "I have heard that Google DeepMind's AI is surprisingly strong and getting stronger, but I am confident I can win at least this time."{x} The outcome is yet to be seen but I'm rooting for the human.

As a therapist, I'm in the human business and expect therapy to remain so into the foreseeable future. Other industries may have a shorter self-life. According to Harriet Taylor, from CNBC, "The so-called gig economy{xi} will cease to exist is 20 years" in an article called, "How robots will kill the 'gig economy'".{xii}

The study she references, by Thumbtack,{xiii} notes companies like Amazon, that is looking to replace drivers with self-driving cars and delivery workers with drones. Uber, she reports, is looking to replace drivers with robots and notes, "Almost half of U.S. jobs are at high risk of computerization over the next 20 years."{xiv} What will humans do? Apparently, there'll be a need for robot and computer repair and maintenance professionals.

Go Lee Sedol!

{i} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)
{ii} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)#Rules
{iii} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Sedol
{iv} http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-deepmind-go-computer-beats-human-opponent-lee-sedol-in-landmark-game-a6920671.html
{v} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFr3K2DORc8
{vi} http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-deepmind-go-computer-beats-human-opponent-lee-sedol-in-landmark-game-a6920671.html
{vii} https://deepmind.com/index.html
{viii} http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/
{ix} http://www.learning-mind.com/five-creepiest-advances-in-artificial-intelligence/
{x} http://venturebeat.com/2016/02/04/youtube-will-livestream-googles-ai-playing-go-superstar-lee-sedol-in-march/
{xi} http://www.collinsdictionary.com/submission/16351/gig%20economy
{xii} http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/09/how-robots-will-kill-the-gig-economy.html
{xiii} https://www.thumbtack.com/blog/beyond-the-gig-economy/
{xiv} http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/09/how-robots-will-kill-the-gig-economy.html