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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Don’t cry, Ke Jie
    2017-June-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Wu Guangqiang

jw368@163.com

LATE last month, Chinese media was abuzz with reports about the three-game Go match between Chinese player Ke Jie, the world’s current top player, and his powerful opponent — the computer Go program AlphaGo.

Not surprisingly, Ke lost all three games, though the first game was a very close one.

Worldwide, professionals lavished praise on Ke’s outstanding performance, and Ke deserves it given that the AI monster is evolving at a speed that outpaces human computing ability by millions of times. Demis Hassabis, AlphaGo’s father, described Ke’s performance as “incredible.”

Yet Ke himself seemed to be on the verge of collapse at one point. Throughout the match, he was rubbing his chest, which, he confessed later, reflected his nervousness. He also rose and hid in a corner to wipe away tears at one point. At the post-match press conference, he again shed tears.

“It was not that I couldn’t beat AlphaGo,” explained the 19-year world champion. As most viewers surmised, it was the feeling of helplessness and depression that stemmed from confronting an enemy that never makes mistakes and always hatches correct moves ahead of its rival that tortured Ke.

“Last year, AlphaGo was still quite human-like,” said Ke after the first match. “But this year, it became like a god of Go,” sighed Ke.

Many still recall that Ke was quite confident in his ability to beat AlphaGo last year when it defeated Korean top player Lee Se-dol. Many others also thought that AlphaGo was far from perfect. Now, however, nobody thinks that way anymore.

All of a sudden, everyone began to call the human-AI battle “unfair” and uninteresting. The remarks of Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group, were representative. “The charm of playing Go lies in the unpredictable outcome and human susceptibility to making mistakes.”

“The error-free AI deprived the game of all of its pleasure,” declared Ma.

Ma’s comments make sense to some degree. Conquering a mountain, however high as it may be, is a pleasure as long as the height is certain, but exploring an abyss conjures fear because of the unfathomable depth.

Almost overnight, AlphaGo’s overwhelming victories stripped humans of their initial curiosity about and contempt of AI and threw them into confusion and despair. Ke has announced that he will never play against an AI opponent again.

As if to respond to the human fear and depression, the team behind AlphaGo, part of Google’s DeepMind unit, announced at the end of the match that AlphaGo was stepping back from competitive play and the team would largely shift towards using AI to solve problems in health, energy and other fields.

In my opinion, the recent overall reaction to AlphaGo’s landslide victory reflects one of humanity’s weaknesses, that is, swinging between extremes. The transition from optimism to pessimism was too swift and only negative lessons have been learned from the games.

I see the bright side of the situation.

We should be grateful for the unmerciful opponent. It made every move according to the rules of Go, but it presented us with a brand-new world in the game we had thought that we knew like the back of our hands.

Before the appearance of AlphaGo, every Go learner would learn from a teacher. How far the newbie could go largely depended on how outstanding his master was as well as his own diligence and intelligence. But however great a master might be, his own mind would be confined to a restrained range preconditioned by knowledge and experience accumulated by his predecessors.

AlphaGo’s understanding of the game of Go has completely overtaken that of humanity’s. It’s no exaggeration to say that AI has revolutionized Go!

Has it occurred to Ke what an amazing breakthrough he can achieve if he were to look at AlphaGo as an alien master and learn valuable lessons from the matches he played against it?

He would soon find how fortunate he was as one of the only two human players to be selected as AlphaGo’s opponents. Later in a subsequent match he defeated Korea’s top player Won seong-jin through overwhelming force. Many fans said that it was the inspiration he got from AlphaGo that made his skills advance by leaps and bounds.

Stand in awe of AI, and we can benefit greatly from it.

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

 

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn