issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
[personal profile] issenllo
Fic: And by their games you shall know them
Series: Hikago
Disclaimer: Characters are the creation of Hotta and Obata
Notes: Continuation of a riff on recent news.




"If you ask me," Ko Yongha said when this reporter asked him what he thought of Shindou-sensei's remarks on the first two AlphaGo v Lee Se-dol games, "Shindou Hikaru is just trying to make the best of a bad situation." Arguably one of the most recognised pros in the world, Ko-sensei is known to have deliberately baited Shindou Honinbou regularly, creating a rivalry that is infamous in both igo and baduk circles. Their fans have been known to get into scuffles when the two pros tussled, most recently in the fight for the Ing Cup title three years ago. (Ko-sensei prevailed by a thin margin on that fight.)

What bad situation was Ko-sensei referring to?

If Ko-sensei was startled at this reporter's question, he did not react. Instead, Ko-sensei said, "For years, Shindou has been boasting about how his Go embodies his strength and his playing style. Many people found his philosophy attractive, and I have to admit that Shindou's best games are characteristic of... well, him. He wouldn't have admitted that in public, but he must be upset that a mere computer programme can play high-level Go too, a programme that doesn't have any sort of style or personality."

Perhaps, this reporter pointed out, but already many pros had commented that they felt AlphaGo's playing style was conservative and sophisticated.

"Impossible," Ko-sensei declared. "That's just an illusion created by the fact that AlphaGo was running hundreds, thousands of scenarios through its algorithms just to put forward a strong response to each of Lee's hands. If you play against a computer, of course the computer would appear conservative. There's no real playing style, not like that of a real human player. Don't just repeat what others are saying unless you have experienced it for yourself!"

Chastised, this reporter admitted that he had never played against a computer programme before. Then again, AlphaGo was supposed to be on a totally different level than other, older versions of Go-playing computer programmes. What did Ko-sensei think of his compatriot's first two games against AlphaGo, then?

Ko-sensei was silent for a long while. "I have played with Lee many times in the past, and he is a creative player, and able to balance aggression with excellent defences. However, AlphaGo was clearly going for the win, and while I was not surprised at its ability to plan its hands well in advance, I felt taken aback at how well it countered Lee's attempts to take over the board time and again."

So Ko-sensei could see that AlphaGo was going to win, both times?

"Unfortunately, yes. It was obvious once you could see the territory that it had secured each time. Lee fought back as best he could, but AlphaGo's abilities were such that Lee could not counter them simply by wishing it so."

That seemed to bode ill for the future of baduk, this reporter commented. For the second time that interview, this reporter was rebuked.

"If you had not placed baduk on a pedestal as though it were some kind of ultimate game, you would not be regarding this as a setback," this reporter was told. "I can see how some people would regard AlphaGo's victories as a crushing blow to the world of baduk, but these people have simply forgotten that baduk is more than just a game to be won or lost. Baduk is more than simply a game. It is a way of life. It is a way of exploring what is possible within your own mind. Baduk is not an enterprise to explore what a machine is capable of. Of course, it is a technical triumph for the creators. But what does that matter to me?"

Put like that, this reporter was forced to concede that Ko-sensei had a point. Even in the twenty-first century, baduk remains a popular game in Korea and elsewhere around the world. Top pros such as Ko-sensei (not to mention Shindou Honinbou and Touya-sensei of Japan) electrify their followers with their unique style of play and they way they approach the game. It remains to be seen if AlphaGo will garner the same kind of following. I thank Ko-sensei for his time for the interview.

"Tell Lee good luck for the next game," Ko-sensei said before he ended the interview.

Date: 2016-03-11 10:37 pm (UTC)
tuulentupa: Fairy on a butterfly (Default)
From: [personal profile] tuulentupa
baduk is more than just a game to be won or lost

Indeed! The whole thing is exciting and in a way a bit sad at the same time, but it won't crush the world of go. (I mean, people still play chess even though Kasparov lost to a computer and that must have been quite a thing back then...)

Trust Ko Yongha to set ignorant reporters right. ^^

Date: 2016-03-12 08:00 pm (UTC)
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
Commentators mentioned that the Korean pros are lining up to play AlphaGo. So it's far from the end! I think Ko's attitude is perhaps a bit more negative than what I've been hearing but I think like him, people aren't discouraged.

Date: 2016-03-13 02:55 pm (UTC)
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
Yes, I heard! I stayed up to watch the first two games but got too sleep deprived...now I wish I had stuck it out. It's much harder to play the AI in subsequent games since it constantly updates so that's extra amazing to have managed it in game 4.

Date: 2016-03-13 04:35 pm (UTC)
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)
From: [personal profile] troisroyaumes
From what I understand (and while being far from an expert, I've been studying neural networks quite a bit lately for career development purposes), it should make a difference, and it did, in the previous string of five matches played against another pro. With the caveat that I have not actually read anything directly from the makers of the AI themselves.

Date: 2016-03-13 02:48 am (UTC)
flonnebonne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] flonnebonne
Another great reaction piece! I really like how mean and self-centered Ko is here, haha. I imagine he *would* be exceedingly annoyed by the maudlin and the ignorance.

(Heck, I'm getting annoyed whenever I read mainstream media about the games and the reporter sounds so absolutely clueless about go AND AI. I don't know much about go and I don't anything about AI but I can at least tell when a reporter knows even less than me -_-)

"if you had not placed baduk on a pedestal as though it were some kind of ultimate game, you would not be regarding this as a setback" --so true.

Thanks for these great fics :)

Date: 2016-03-13 10:09 pm (UTC)
lanerose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lanerose
I love this verse so much. So much!!! <3

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issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
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