Why Google’s AlphaGo Go-playing computer is a big deal

Previous championship game-playing computers, like IBM’s Deep Blue, were brilliantly taught by human beings. AlphaGo taught itself.

In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue system defeated the world chess champion, Garry Kasparov. At the time, the victory was widely described as a milestone in artificial intelligence. But Deep Blue’s technology turned out to be useful for chess and not much else. Computer science did not undergo a revolution.

Will AlphaGo, the Go-playing system that recently defeated one of the strongest Go players in history, be any different?

I believe the answer is yes, but not for the reasons you may have heard. Many articles proffer expert testimony that Go is harder than chess, making this victory more impressive. Or they say that we didn’t expect computers to win at Go for another 10 years, so this is a bigger breakthrough. Some articles offer the (correct!) observation that there are more potential positions in Go than in chess, but they don’t explain why this should cause more difficulty for computers than for humans.

In other words, these arguments don’t address the core question: Will the technical advances that led to AlphaGo’s success have broader implications? To answer this question, we must first understand the ways in which the advances that led to AlphaGo are qualitatively different and more important than those that led to Deep Blue.

Is AlphaGo Really Such a Big Deal [Michael Nielsen – Quanta Magazine]

Deep Learning Is Going to Teach Us All the Lesson of Our Lives: Jobs Are for Machines

Recent advances in “deep learning,” such as Google’s AlphaGo computer beating a human Go champion repeatedly, are as important as splitting the atom more than 70 years ago, which launched a Cold War that perched the human race on the precipice of extinction for decades, says Scott Santens on Medium.

When machines can do all the jobs, universal basic income might be the only way to keep civilization going, Santens says.

Santens underestimates how fundamental a change that kind of machine intelligence would be. We can barely imagine what that future world would be like. How can we prepare for it?

[Deep Learning Is Going to Teach Us All the Lesson of Our Lives: Jobs Are for Machines / Scott Santens / Medium]