American Go E-Journal » Computer Go/AI

DeepMind Publishes AlphaGo-Lee Sedol Commentaries After “Exhaustive Analysis”

Monday September 12, 2016

DeepMind has just published extensive new commentaries on the historic AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match, played earlier this year2016.09.12_AlphaGo Games – English  DeepMind in Seoul. Fan Hui 2P, who first faced AlphaGo in October 2015, has teamed up with Gu Li 9p and Zhou Ruiyang 9p to conduct “exhaustive analysis” not only of the five games between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, but of three games AlphaGo played against itself shortly before the match. The commentaries provide both analysis of the moves as well as insight into AlphaGo — and its team — behind the scenes, including the AI’s realtime assessments and tidbits such as “it is clear from AlphaGo’s data that it prefers White.” For anyone who watched the games in March, these commentaries provide a fascinating opportunity to see them with a fresh eye.

“We found its ideas both exciting and inspiring, and it became clear to us that AlphaGo represents not only a scientific and technological advancement, but also a milestone in human understanding of Go,” says Fan. “Unconstrained by human biases, and free to experiment with radical new approaches, AlphaGo has demonstrated great open-mindedness and invigorated the game with creative new strategies…AlphaGo has created a unique and extremely powerful approach to the game of Go.

Noting that “no one strategy can guarantee a player’s success,” Fan adds that “learning from these games is sure to have a positive, enlightening impact on one’s Go strength and style.”
- Chris Garlock. With Michael Redmond 9P, Garlock co-hosted DeepMind’s English game commentaries on the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match. 

Categories: Computer Go/AI

Fan Hui: AlphaGo Makes Us Proud to be Go Players

Thursday August 4, 2016

Demonstrating the continuing fascination with all things AlphaGo, it was standing-room-only on Thursday2016.08.04_aja-fan-thank-you-IMG_0272 afternoon at the US Go Congress when Fan Hui 2P presented a detailed commentary on Game Five of the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match. Blending his trademark self-deprecating humor and intense commitment to the game, Fan — who was the first pro to play AlphaGo in October 2015 — illustrated some of the key parts of the game with ideas and comments he’s gleaned from reviews with many other professionals including Gu Li 9P, as well as AlphaGo’s own estimates of where Lee Sedol should have played. Although many of the proposed moves were not terribly sure in Fan’s estimate, he joked that “One thing for sure is that AlphaGo thinks it’s good for white, so I think so too,” drawing a laugh from the audience.

DeepMind is due to release commentaries on games one and two as well in the coming weeks, for which Fan gave brief trailers. In conclusion, Fan 2016.08.04_aja-fan-sign-lids-IMG_0281said AlphaGo had not just changed the course of go history, but the day-to-day lives of go players around the world. “Before, when you told friends or family members you play go, they’d look at you in puzzlement and ask what go is. Now they know it’s the game in the famous ‘Man versus Machine’ match. Now you can be proud to say ‘I am a go player.’”

In a brief presentation before the lecture, American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock and AGA president Andy Okun made both Fan and AlphaGo programmer Aja Huang honorary members of the E-Journal team “in appreciation for your incredible work publicizing go to a global audience,” presenting them with E-Journal caps. They — along with Garlock — were also given letters by the Empty Sky Go Club’s Steve Colburn from members of go clubs in Upstate New York thanking the entire AlphaGo team for making go “worldwide headline news” and “breaking a barrier that has not been seen in the world of go until now.” Huang and Fan then signed the lids of two go bowls that will be auctioned off at the Congress closing night banquet to benefit the American Go Foundation.
- Andy Okun; photo by Todd Heidenreich


Huge Audience Turns Out for AlphaGo Keynote at U.S. Go Congress

Saturday July 30, 2016

With over 600 signed up, this year’s U.S. Go Congress in Boston has the most registrants in the 32-year history of the2016.07.30_aja-huang event and it seemed as though just about every one of them was crowded into the main playing area in Boston University’s George Sherman Union Saturday night as AlphaGo’s Aja Huang 7d gave the keynote address, along with Fan Hui 2P. The audience was spellbound as the two gave a fascinating insider’s look at the two-year development of the AI program that decisively defeated Lee Sedol last March and attracted global attention to the game of go.

Huang (right) gave an overview of how AlphaGo started in 2014 as a 2-man project as he and David Silver worked to explore deep learning and reinforcement learning with computer go. (Click here to see the video of the keynote speech) The policy network trained by supervised learning was developed by Chris Maddison and the team realized significant improvement in the latter half of 2014 by combining the policy network into AlphaGo. While the details are fully explained in the team’s Nature paper, Huang shared personal stories like how Fan Hui was chosen to test the program. “I 2016.07.30_fan-huisaw him at a tournament in Dublin and the top Korean players were all going out to drink the night before the tournament but he said no, he couldn’t go because he had to prepare for the games, so I knew he was very serious,” Huang laughed.

Fan Hui (left) said that he almost missed the invitation to visit the DeepMind team in London because it seemed a bit odd and he thought “it might just be spam.” In fact, “when I heard it was Google, I assumed they would be hooking me up with something like Google Glass, so when I found out they just wanted me to play a computer program I was so relieved and thought Oh, this will be easy.” In perhaps the most poignant story of the evening, Fan Hui took the rapt audience through his five secret games with AlphaGo in Fall 2015, losing every game until at the end, “my game was crushed and I thought I now knew nothing about go.” Out of those defeats, however, Fan Hui discovered even greater depths, not just to go itself, but to his own fascination and love of the game. “What AlphaGo teaches us is that you can play anywhere,” he said, as the audience erupted in applause.

After their presentation, the two took questions from the audience, many of whom wanted to know things like when an 2016.07.30_alphago-team-awardAlphaGoBot on KGS will be available and whether a strong version of the program would be available in the near future for desktops or handhelds. Most were answered cryptically with “Under discussion,” but in response to a question about how strong AlphaGo is today, Huang — who had earlier showed a graph charting improvement of one rank a month — did say that it was possible that the program could now give a professional two stones, but that this has not yet been tested. He also said that commentaries will be released soon on all five AlphaGo-Lee Sedol games, as well as three games between AlphaGo v18 (the version that played Lee Sedol).

Longtime International Go Federation and American Go Association official Thomas Hsiang presented Huang and Fan with a special award from the International Go Federation to the AlphaGo team “in appreciation for its outstanding contribution towards the development and promotion of go.”
- Chris Garlock; photos by Phil Straus
Click here to see the complete video of the keynote speechRead more about AlphaGo here and check out all our AI posts here.


Rational Play? The Master of Go vs. AlphaGo

Monday June 13, 2016

by Andrew Feenberg

This is the story of two go matches. In March, Google’s artificial intelligence computer AlphaGo defeated world champion Lee Sedol 9P 4-1. This is considered a great triumph for artificial intelligence. Does it mean that AI is almost human? Or that humans have simply become machine-like? Another historic match in 1938 provides some useful perspective.

Games are ambiguous phenomena. On the one hand they are models of rationality. There are unambiguous rules, actions, and measures of success and failure. On the other hand games are social events, collaborative performances governed by meta-rules such as sportsmanship that contextualize the play. The players need each other in order to perform. They produce an object together through their combined efforts. The effect of this activity is to contribute to their own personal development as human beings. And we often qualify the product of their activity in aesthetic terms: a beautiful play in football for example.

Rationality as found in games is also a general attribute of the culture of modern societies. Modern societies contain many game like systems. Individuals act as players in these systems in order to get a raise, get a job, learn new skills, take a plane, avoid paying taxes, and so on. Thus games can appear as models of modernity and what happens with games can tell us something about what happens in modern societies in general.

This is why the Nobel prize-winning Japanese author Kawabata chose the game of go for one of his most famous novels. “The Master of Go” is based on a real match that Kawabata witnessed as a newspaperman in 1938. This was the last match of the old master Shusai and his challenger, called Otake in the novel. Each player represents an era. The old master represents traditional play, while his challenger represents modernized play, influenced by Western ideas. Traditional play is all about the human side of the game, deference, the notion of way or vocation as practiced in Japanese martial arts for example, and beauty, the beauty of the moves and the board as the game evolves. Modernity is about winning. Just that.

The novel recounts the game’s play as it reveals the characters and the historical background. The whole intrigue centers on a single move in the game, move 121. The reason this move is so important has to do with Western innovations introduced by the challenger and favored by the newspapers. In the old days the master would have regulated the flow of play, deciding when to start and end each day’s session. But the 1938 match was organized around time limits and sealed moves at the end of the day as in Western chess. Of course players are equal in the game play, but the traditional way of playing recognized the differences between the players in the world outside the game. Now the equalization internal to the game was being extended outward into the world of play. One can see how this might appeal to the challenger and to the newspapers, both of whom would prefer not to be subject to the whims of the old master. To the old master it seemed a lack of due deference.

As it happened, the challenger began to run out of time toward the middle of the game. To gain time to reflect on a difficult position in the center of the board he sealed a final move off in a corner. This trivial move required the master to respond away from the central struggle. The manipulation implied in this use of the time limits and sealed moves upset the master. He was offended and said that the beauty of the game was lost. As a result he made several mistakes and the challenger won. Modernity triumphs over tradition. But we are left with the clear impression that the old master was the better player of the two.

Kawabata wrote after World War II that he would only write elegies, elegies for the lost beauty of the old Japan. The novel is obviously a critique of modernization. But note that it is not about the contrast between rational modernity and the irrational tradition. There is nothing strategically irrational or inferior about the old master’s play. So the contrast of modernization and tradition is not about strategic rationality vs. irrational sentimentality. It is about the place of strategic rationality in the real world. Tradition is a set of meta-rules that contextualize and organize the rationalized sectors of social life such as games. Modernity extends the rationality of games into the real world. This has counterintuitive consequences. For example, in the case of the actual match the inferior player wins through manipulating the new meta-rules and upsetting his adversary rather than through superior play.

Here is the how Kawabata described his elegy for traditional go: “It may be said that the master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were everything, from which all the grace and elegance of go as art had disappeared, which quite dispensed with respect for elders and attached no importance to mutual respect as human beings. From the way of go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled.”

The losers of the two matches were Shusai and Lee Sedol. The winners were Otaké and AlphaGo. What do they have in common? If we understand games in all their ambiguity as both strategic exercises, rational systems, and also ways of self development and aesthetic achievement, then I would suggest that their reduction to mere winning is a disaster. The matches reveal the limits of modernity as a way of understanding and organizing human life. In reorganizing the social world around strategic rationality, modernity prepares the triumph of the machine.

This essay is based on a talk presented at the McLuhan Centre at the University of Toronto in early March. It has been condensed and updated. Feenberg has written extensively about Kawabata’s novel previously in his book Alternative Modernity.

Categories: Computer Go/AI

AGA, AGF, KBA and EGF Share in Google’s AlphaGo Prize Money

Monday June 6, 2016

Making good on their promise to support both go and educational initiatives, the developers of AlphaGo Monday announced the division of the $1 million prize fund they won in March’s historic match with Lee Sedol 9p, including grants to both the American Go Association and the American Go Foundation.

“Pleased to confirm the recipients of the #AlphaGo $1m prize! @UNICEF_uk, @CodeClub, and the American, European and Korean Go associations,” tweeted DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis. “@theaga, EGF and KBA will use the #AlphaGo donation to raise awareness of Go worldwide and encourage participation especially at youth level.”

The biggest recipient, UNICEF UK, will receive $450,000 to support global education work including girls’ education and gender equality, while $100,000 will be granted to Code Club UK for the creation of more clubs around the world for children to learn to program. The go community grant is $150,000 each to European Go Federation, the Korea Baduk Association and the American go entities. The AGF will receive $60,000 and the AGA $90,000, DeepMind said.

“It has become clear that the AlphaGo match was the biggest promotional boost the game of go has received in many years, and most of the credit for that is due to DeepMind’s people and how hard they worked from the start to make sure the match gave the widest and most positive exposure possible to the game,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “The announcement of these grants shows they are continuing that good work. I am happy to express to them the thanks of our whole North American go community for the love and respect they have shown for the game.”

“Go is good for kids and the Google grant will help us reach and teach more of them. Broaden the base!” said AGF President Terry Benson.

AGA’s proposal to DeepMind was to use the AGA grant as the basis of a North American pro championship tournament over six years, and for AGF to use the grant to explore methods of more effectively spreading go in schools, said Okun.


John Tromp and the Big Numbers of Go

Monday May 23, 2016

Some years ago, Dutch computer scientist John Tromp (right) and his colleagues reported that the longest possible game of go 2016.05.24_johnTrompwould last longer than the universe is likely to. Now, the culmination of their work on Go Combinatorics—the science of counting—is reported on in Peter Shotwell’s latest essay, “John Tromp and the Big Numbers of Go: The Possible Positions, Games and the Longest.” One finds that the number of possible games “is more than a googolplex, which is a number that cannot physically be written down in the available space of the universe.” Also, with highly advanced computer power since that last report, Tromp and his team finally found the exact 171-digit number for 19 x 19 boards. “A 13×13 board has as many possible positions as the approximately 1080 atoms in the universe and the ‘L19’ number is more than 1090 times greater than this.” In other words, as one science writer quipped, “Saying that there are more go positions or games than atoms in the universe is like saying the national debt is more than a penny.”


Categories: Computer Go/AI

AlphaGo Updates: What the AI Behind AlphaGo Can Teach Us About Being Human; A glimpse inside AlphaGo? Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo Game 1 Go Commentary; Lee Sedol overtaxed?

Saturday May 21, 2016

What the AI Behind AlphaGo Can Teach Us About Being Human: AJA HUANG DIPS his hand into a wooden2016.05.21_alphago_2-660x495 bowl of polished black stones and, without looking, thumbs one between his middle and index finger. Peering through wire-rim glasses, he places the black stone on the board, in a mostly empty zone, just below and to the left of a single white stone. In Go parlance it is a “shoulder hit,” in from the side, far away from most of the game’s other action. Across the table, Lee Sedol, the best Go player of the past decade, freezes. He looks at the 37 stones fanned out across the board, then stands up and leaves…Read the rest of Cade Metz’ report in Wired. photo by Geordie Wood

A glimpse inside AlphaGo? “Here’s a picture of the machine 2016.05.21_Tensor Processing UnitGoogle used in the match against Lee Sedol,” writes Steven Schmeiser. “It turns out that they were using custom designed chips that are optimized for machine learning.”
Google supercharges machine learning tasks with TPU custom chip

Go Commentary: Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo – Game 1: If there’s any recent game that needs no introduction, it’s this one. On March 9, 2016, the computer Go program ‘AlphaGo’ defeated Lee Sedol 9p in the first game of the Google DeepMind Challenge Match. Go Game Guru’s Youngil An takes a look at the game.

Lee Sedol overtaxed? In a related story, Gordan Castanza reports that “I just learned from KBS News (Korean Broadcast System) this morning that Lee Sedol has left the Korean Baduk Association over the issue of its imposing a 20% ‘tax’ on him.” Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Categories: Computer Go/AI

Steam moving ahead with first go client

Saturday April 2, 2016

Steam, the largest distribution platform for online games, is moving ahead with its first-ever go client. Developed by Hart Laboratories, Ancient Go was approved on March 15 through a process called Steam Greenlight, which uses community support to select games for distribution. Although a release date is forthcoming, once available Ancient Go will provide players with another digital arena in which to test their mettle. 2016.04.02_Steam Greenlight  Ancient Go
Coming on the heels of the AlphaGo – Lee Sedol series, the timing of Ancient Go’s introduction is fortuitous. Online interest in go spiked despite Lee Sedol’s 1:4 performance against AlphaGo. In Reddit’s r/baduk, members noted a 20% increase in subscribers, which grew to over 10,000 users. The Online-Go Server also noted a surge of new players. Comments left on the Ancient Go Greenlight site were enthusiastic about the new go client, which will run on Steam’s proprietary distribution system.
2016.04.02_ancient-go-preview_3DBoardBuilt on the Unreal 4 Engine, Ancient Go is visually appealing. The goban and stones are rendered well, and its interface is striking for its minimalism – perhaps even too much so. There is no window for chat and no time display is evident in the game demonstration. While the Unreal 4 Engine supports 3D graphics, there are no plans to extend 3D presentation beyond the tutorial section, at least through the initial release. Games will still be played in two dimensions. “The priority [for Ancient Go] is to be beginner friendly, rather than being feature full. The goal is “to draw in new players instead of compete with existing servers,” notes Christopher Hart, Ancient Go’s developer, who also mentioned that the client will emphasize “quick play on smaller boards.”
There are still many unknowns about Ancient Go and several potential drawbacks. Chief among these is the lack of SGF 2016.04.02_ancient-go-preview_Tutorialsupport which, although standard on all other clients, evidently did not make the “feature full” cut for the first release. Ancient Go will also only be available on Steam’s Windows-compatible platform, not its Linux or Mac OS X versions. At this time there is no information about the quality of Ancient Go’s AI. The developer has also not announced any plans to introduce life and death problems or community forum features to the client. How all of this will affect the Steam community’s response to Ancient Go is yet to be seen.
Bearing all of this in mind, the release of Ancient Go will still be cause for excitement. Steam, which is owned by the Valve Corporation, boasts some 125 million accounts and has proven a versatile platform for online gaming. Extending go to this platform is sure to introduce more people to the game, and if even only a small fraction of these develops a deeper interest in go, I think the effort will have been worthwhile. Ancient Go should prove a welcome addition to the online go community.
- Daniel Acheson
Categories: Computer Go/AI

David Lee Roth: “Go, man, go”

Saturday April 2, 2016

Rock ‘n’ roll legend David Lee Roth is “goin’ to the world championships; Not monster truck. Not PBR. Not rodeo. All of it 2016.04.02_david_lee_roth_videomixed into one: AlphaGo versus a human being.” Former Van Halen front man Roth’s most recent addition to his hit video webcast series “TheRothShow“, features about 10 minutes of witty dialogue on go. In a witty, erudite stream of consciousness rap about go inspired by the recent AlphaGo versus Lee Sedol match, Roth — who’s been studying with Myungwan Kim 9P — explains the “infinite variety” of the game that our “kids are gonna” play and our “grandkids are gonna be able to teach.” Pointing out that go players develop their “intuitive capacity to look at something and find the solution in the board,” Roth alludes to the challenges computers face in “divergent thinking” and calls the game “gymnastics for the brain.”
- Brian Kirby

AlphaGo on CNN

Thursday March 31, 2016

 cnn2cnn1As AlphaGo finished playing the first round of its historic matches against Lee Sedol, news media around the world was reaching out to go organizations around the world. In the US there was a large number of print and internet publications. In three cases AlphaGo was talked about on TV for the US. The Daily Show covered AlphaGo and its AI prowess. On March 9th Michael Chen met with Poppy Harlow on CNN’s Quest Means Business on CNN International. During the segment they discussed the importance of the match and some basic of the game (Transcript). On March 10th Andrew Okun was interviewed by Ivan Watson from CNN International about the second loss from the matches. Okun talks about how far go has come to get to this point (Transcript).
- Steve Colburn