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The God Move

January 15, 2018

I watched AlphaGo on Netflix yesterday, and have been in an eerie mood since. An amazingly well made documentary, AlphaGo is the story of AI and man. Have you ever seen images and cartoons from the 50’s that attempt to depict how the future will look? It’s the retro-futuristic vibe similar to the Smeg line of products. One thing you will notice though: we always get it wrong. No matter which time period we attempt to predict the future from, we get it wrong.

I’ve always wondered, if this process repeats itself—if we are always wrong in predicting the future—how might we be looking at things incorrectly now? In our case, our predictions of the future consist of a doomsday like prophecy of AI revolting against their maker, or gaining full independence from us. If anything, the story of AlphaGo says, this is us misunderstanding our creative creations. AI augments. AI makes us better.

AlphaGo chronicles how a team from Google called DeepMind built a neural-network based AI that learns how to play the ancient game of Go, and the story of the preemptive cultural devastation and shattering it caused. It’s heart-warming, beautiful, eerie, and ultimately, makes me profoundly proud of the human race.

I’ve never played Go before, but the way the game is depicted makes my mouth water. Moves are described as being “beautiful and divinely creative”, and one particular move played by a human was so unimaginably creative as to be called “The God Move”. Professional players of the game seem to speak with endless poetic flow and wisdom, and claim that the experience of playing Go and the sensations one feels are so unique that they can be felt through no other medium.

Needless to say, I will be spending exactly the next 1 week obsessing over Go, then never touching, reading, or hearing anything about it ever again. Thus is the nature of Netflix-induced obsessions. Besides, the pros were handed Go boards mere seconds after birth—you just can’t compete with childhood practice.


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