a board game that forever changed the relationship man x machine

GO, an ancient Chinese board game, challenges its players with more than 2 x 10170 move possibilities. Options are so abundant that exceeds the number of atoms on the observable universe. GO is so monumentally complex, it's considered not being a strict strategy game, but also one in which intuition plays a huge part.

 

The challenge

Determined to create a machine capable of forming connections as complex as human brain does, DeepMind, a Google’s british Artificial Intelligence company, created AlphaGO: a computer program capable of playing GO. Powered by information from millions of matches, by 2016 AlphaGo was ready to challenge Korean Lee Sedol, the greatest Go player of all time.

Moves 37 and 78 mark the moment in which man and machine finally begin to evolve together.

Wired

Move 37

The contest begins, and Lee loses 3 matches in a row. Every single GO enthusiasts in the audience became astonished. During the third game, Lee grew a profound admiration by his opponent. All because of move 37. At first sight, a simple movement, but so powerful that AlphaGO managed to eliminate all Lee’s win possibilities with it. It was a 1:10,000 chance that move 37 has been played by a human being.

 

Move 78

On the fourth match, Lee was decided to regain his millions fans’ proud. He knew he had to throw all he had. As the game went on, Lee was increasingly against the wall. It all indicated machine’s victory once again. Then, after a 30 minute pondering, Lee placed move 78. Such a magnificently precise movement that, later on, was called “Hand of God”. For the first and last time, Lee beat the machine.

After the match, the AlphaGO team calculated the odds of play 78: Lee's move had  also a 1 in 10,000 probability of being performed by a human being.

 

The hidden learning

In a deeper analysis, what we saw wasn't a human x machine clash. In the matter of fact, we have witnessed a human + machine genuine cooperation. Move 37 was already beyond anyone's imagination. But then, move 78 stupefied us all. Therefore, we can only ask: what if Lee Sedol haven’t had played and lost his first three games against AlphaGO? Would he had found the “Hand of God”? The very same machine that defeated him also inspired him in a better and unique way.

Move 37 felt beyond imagination. Notwithstanding, move 78 took us further more. Therefore, we can only ask: what if Lee Sedol haven't had played and lost his first three games against AlphaGO?