American Go E-Journal » Go Spotting

Go Spotting: The inscrutability of artificial intelligence in go… and nuclear warfare

Sunday October 6, 2019

In a September 7th article titled “Battle algorithm,” The Economist writes of a “paradox” that may be familiar to readers who analyze their games using Leela Zero and other AIs. “AI might at once penetrate and thicken the fog of war, allowing it to be waged with a speed and complexity that renders it essentially opaque to humans.” The article notes that in AlphaGo’s March 2016 victory over Lee Sedol, the AI “played several highly creative moves that confounded experts,” and this led a workshop at the Chinese Academy of Military Science to conclude that, in the words of one source, “an AI could create tactics and stratagems superior to those of a human player in a game that can be compared to a war-game.”

While the article in The Economist focuses on conventional warfare, the strengths and weaknesses of go-playing AIs also appear in recent publications on nuclear warfare.

In 2017, the American think tank RAND Corporation held a series of workshops on AI and nuclear war, which noted that AlphaGo’s victory “astonished even AI and strategy experts.” “[T]he decisionmaking in Go is far simpler to address than in nuclear war…. but by the year 2040, it does not seem unreasonable to expect that an AI system might be able to play aspects or stages of military wargames or exercises at superhuman levels.” It is “likely that humans making command decisions will treat the AI system’s suggestions as on par with or better than those of human advisers. This potentially unjustified trust presents new risks that must be considered.”

This year, an August 16 commentary by two American researchers also cites AlphaGo. The commentary notes that AlphaGo Zero “learned through an iterative process”; “in nuclear conflict there is no iterative learning process.” “The laws of war require a series of judgments…. Software that cannot explain why a target was chosen probably cannot abide by those laws. Even if it can, humans might mistrust a decision aid that could outwardly resemble a Magic 8-Ball.” Nonetheless, the commentary argues for having AI take more control over US nuclear weapons.

Thanks to Fred Baldwin for once again spotting go, this time in “Battle algorithm.”

-edited by Joe Cua

Share

Go Spotting: Game of Stones? Pattern Stones?

Tuesday September 10, 2019

A couple of AGA members have recently told us about references to games with stones in science fiction novels. Could these folks be playing Go?

Peter Freedman points out that in the science fiction trilogy Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley, the warriors play “a game of stones” with black and white stones. Unfortunately, we have no more information about this.

Meanwhile, Mike Goerss points out that in Machineries of Empire by Yoon Ha Lee, another science fiction trilogy, the characters play a game called “pattern stones” that seems like it could possibly be Go. Few details about this game are provided, but there is a reference to a three-stone handicap, and also the line, “Brezan placed a black stone – naturally he was the weaker player.” (These references appear on pages 152-154 of Raven Stratagem, the second book in the series.)

If you find more clues about what game these characters are playing, or if you spot references to Go in other popular literature, please let us know by dropping us a line at journal@usgo.org.

Share
Categories: Go Spotting,Main Page
Share

Go Spotting: Chazen Museum of Art

Wednesday August 14, 2019

“During Go Congress, I visited the Chazen Museum of Art at UW and found this Japanese print,” writes Li Ping. “It is a Samurai standing on top of a Go set.”

The woodcut is by Katsukawa Shunshô, who was known for “his widely influential nise-e (“likeness painting”) or nigao (“likenesses”), which were stylized but otherwise accurate facial likenesses of actors. These introduced a greater measure of realism and individuation into ukiyo-e actor portraits.” (Source.)

The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as a Samurai in a Wrestling Arena
Katsukawa Shunsho (Japanese, 1726 – 1792) "The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as a Samurai in a Wrestling Arena" ca. 1780 Color woodcut Bequest of John H. Van Vleck
Katsukawa Shunsho (Japanese, 1726 – 1792) “The Actor Ichikawa Danjuro V as a Samurai in a Wrestling Arena” ca. 1780 Color woodcut Bequest of John H. Van Vleck

-edited by Nate Eagle

Share

Go Spotting: National Gallery features two scenes by Japanese artists involving games of go

Saturday August 10, 2019

Former AGA President Allan Abramson spotted games of go in two scenes currently on display in the East wing of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Horses and Grooms in the Stable

Muromachi period, early 1500s
pair of six-panel screens; ink, color, and gold on paper

The Cleveland Museum of Art, Edward L. Whittemore Fund

“Fine horses were treasured assets for military commanders, who built elaborate stables to house them. A Portuguese priest who visited Japan during the Edo period noted that such stables were spotlessly clean, elaborate structures where members of the elite could entertain, as shown here. Guests sit on tatami mats and play the board games go or shogi (similar to chess) while falconers watch over their hawks and grooms attend to the spirited horses. Monkeys, thought to draw illness away from horses, appear in the panels to the right of the go or shogi players.”

The Cleveland Museum of Art has a high-res version of the entire scene.

Warrior Minamoto Raiko and the Earth Spider

Utagawa Kuniyoshi
1798 – 1861

Edo period, 1843
triptych, woodblock print
Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
The Joan Elizabeth Tanney Bequest

The Earth or Dirt Spider

“Families that rebelled against the emperor were disparaged as ‘dirt spiders’ (tsuchigumo) in some ancient Japanese texts. In the popular imagination, the term was taken literally to refer to a giant, ground-dwelling arachnid. In Kuniyoshi’s print, the Earth Spider tries to ensnare in its web a famous but ailing warrior, Minamoto Raiko (948 – 1021), whose four bodyguards sip sake and play board games. The artist used the story to satirize the harshness of the government in his own day. When the print was issued in 1843, viewers understood that the sick Raiko was a stand-in for the unpopular current shogun, and the horde of demons symbolized the down-trodden townspeople.

“In Yoshitsuya’s version of the story, Raiko’s bodyguards or generals lower themselves in baskets into the cave of the Earth Spider and its serpent companion. The monster glares at the intruders with its green, bulging eyes, while countless small spiders crawl over its body. Despite the odds against them, the bodyguards ultimately slay the Earth Spider. Their victory inspired a centuries-old Noh play, Tsuchigumo, that was adapted for Kabuki theater.”

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has a high-quality version of the triptych here.

-edited by Nate Eagle

Share
Categories: Go Spotting,Main Page
Share

Go Spotting: Yanko Design

Wednesday August 7, 2019

“Yanko Design considers itself an online magazine of modern and industrial product design,” writes AGA member Morgan Faas. On Yanko Design’s website he found a go board design that, in his words, “upgrades the go board into the modern era of technology.”

Indeed, this post by James Hoare asks, “Don’t you think that it’s about time that one of the oldest known board games is due a refresh?” The post goes on to describe a go board with embedded multi-color lights. It seems like each player has one stone that they tap on a point on the board to indicate where they wish to play. Then the point lights up in color. The article doesn’t give some details that might be of interest to go players, such as how captures work, or scoring for that matter. However, this could be an interesting concept for those who might think the game of go needs a technological update.

This 21st century go board is designed by Joonho Sung. It appears to be an idea and not an actual product at this point.

-edited by Roger Schrag

Share
Categories: Go Spotting,Main Page
Share

Go Spotting: Google Classroom

Wednesday July 31, 2019

Go is now among the themes available for classes on Google Classroom, reports Alicia Seifrid. First launched in 2014, Google Classroom is an all-in-one platform for teachers, giving them online tools to post lesson material, distribute, collect and grade assignments, and communicate with students. When creating a new class (something any user with a Google account can do), you can apply a graphic theme to your class pages. For the Go graphic, under the “Other” category, look for the “Game Night” theme.
edited by Brian Olive

Share
Categories: Go Spotting,Main Page
Share

Go Spotting: Hunter x Hunter

Tuesday July 30, 2019

Longtime EJ contributor Janice Kim recently sent along this screenshot “from my favorite anime, Hunter x Hunter. In this longer scene,  the King of the Chimera Ants learns Go from books, and takes on the national champion, winning after playing just ten games. His advisors had mentioned to him that Go is quite more difficult than chess or shoji (not agreeing, just reporting there :) and so he wanted a challenge while he’s waiting to take over the world. 


“This is from episode 102, fourth season I believe. The first three seasons are on Netflix, but you have to go on crunchyroll to see episodes from there.
The first episodes are a little slow, but there is a lot in there about training, that I’m perhaps somewhat hilariously extrapolating to Go, with I think good results.”

Share

Go Spotting: Takeshi Obata Exhibit

Friday July 12, 2019

Hikaru no Go artist Takeshi Obata is the subject of an art opening in Japan, running from July 13- August 12. Thanks to Winston Jen for the photo of the exhibit promo, and the news item on the exhibit. Click here for more info.

Share

Go Spotting: Knives Out

Thursday July 11, 2019

The official trailer for the upcoming Lionsgate film “Knives Out” includes a quick sequence of a go stone being placed on a go board about 52 seconds in from the start. The shot is so close up that we can’t see the full board position. Look for this dark comedy / whodunnit film in theaters this coming November. Thank you Daniel Chou and Michael Goerss for sharing this with us.

Share
Categories: Go Spotting,Main Page
Share

Go Spotting: The Life of Animals in Japanese Art

Thursday July 11, 2019

“There is a great show — The Life of Animals in Japanese Art — at the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC,” reports Gurujeet Khalsa. “It includes several depictions of go including this detail from an 1843 triptych by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.” The show runs until August 18 and is highly recommended if you are in DC this summer. “While you are here stop by the National Go Center and play some go,” says Khalsa.

Share
Categories: Go Spotting,Main Page
Share