issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
[personal profile] issenllo
Fic: But can it see the stars?
Series: Hikago
Dislcaimer: Characters are the creation of Hotta and Obata
Notes: Another riff, after the third game. Contains an OC. Weiqi is Chinese (Mandarin) for igo.


"That's it, weiqi is destroyed forever," Zhang said from where he was seated in his chair, rubbing at his eyes from behind his glasses.

"How do you mean?" Le Ping asked his fellow pro. He stood up and did a few stretches. Following the game live on the internet was exhausting, and he hadn't even been playing. "All we saw was that a computer program beat Lee Se-dol."

Hesitatingly, Isumi spoke, "But isn't it true? Now that Go can be beaten by a program, it means that-"

"Means what?" Le Ping retorted, almost angry, turning a glare in Isumi's direction, meeting his friend's gaze directly.

Before Isumi could reply, Yang Hai re-entered the living room where they had gathered to watch the third Lee v AlphaGo game. As soon as Lee had resigned, Yang Hai had made a beeline for his bedroom, stating that he had a phonecall to make. The phone was still pressed against his ear, but Yang Hai was clearly speaking to someone from the media. He had that look on his face.

"Yes, I've been watching it with some of my old friends," he was explaining as he sat down before the computer screen again, scrutinising the still-frozen image of the game board on it. "Who? Just some pros," he went on in a deliberately casual tone. "Zhang Xiaowen, the Qisheng from Hainan. And Le Ping, you know him? Youngest Chunlan Cup winner ever. Oh, do you want to-"

Le Ping immediately made an exaggerated 'cut it out' gesture at him. Isumi had been surprised that Le Ping didn't like talking to reporters, but Le Ping found their ignorance about the game a turnoff.

Yang Hai smirked, and spoke unconcernedly into the phone. "Hm, it looks like he's still focused on analysing the game and can't come to the phone. Yes. I'm sure he'll be happy to speak to you later."

Le Ping mimed throwing something at him.

"Yes. I'm so glad you remembered that. Yes, I was one of the first people in China to start a project to create a program that can play weiqi. Unfortunately, we ran into funding problems and our team had to give up the project. I've been following the Google project from the time they declared their intention of building such a program."

"I wouldn't say that," Yang Hai said after a pause. "I was surprised, yes, but that was because the Google team looked at it as an challenge to create a learning artificial intelligence, whereas we were trying to create a weiqi program. We looked at it from the opposite end, so as to speak. No. Yes. In a way, we were much too focused on the weiqi. We worked at it through the games that have been played, trying to create a high-level player."

As Yang Hai spoke, Le Ping leant back in his chair, breathing out slowly as he glanced down at the Go board where he and Isumi had been reproducing the game. Isumi had been placing hands for Lee Sedol, and what stress Lee must have been feeling near the end of the game, when his time had been used up, limiting him to 60-second turns, seemed to have struck Isumi deeply. Le Ping could see how sympathetic Isumi was towards Lee's predicament in playing under such intense pressure.

"Do I think that this is the end of weiqi." Yang Hai's slow, deliberately neutral tones caught his attention, and he looked up to where Yang Hai was still seated before the computer, clicking through the various comments that were posted after the game ended.

There was a soft crash as Zhang straightened his chair from where he had been rocking on two legs, his attention also turning to Yang Hai.

"Just because one man was beaten by a computer program." Yang Hai's voice was still measured. "I'll give it to you straight, bro. Yes, it's a marvellous achievement, I grant you that. Maybe even a bit deflating, to know that a computer program can beat a top man like Lee, not once, but three times. But to conflate AlphaGo's victories with the end of weiqi, well. Just because AlphaGo has outplayed Lee Se-dol doesn't mean anyone with a laptop can beat Le Ping."

Le Ping's eyes widened. What was Yang Hai implying?!

Isumi looked curious. His Chinese had improved greatly over the past few years, but it was probably befuddling to understand Yang Hai when he spoke in that machine-gun speed. "Technology is progressing rapidly, I know. We are living in amazing times. I admire AlphaGo, and not purely in a technical sense. But one man's defeat doesn't mean that weiqi is over. A game that has been played since the dawn of our civilisation, do you think it will be replaced by computers now?"

"Oh!"

Le Ping glanced up to see Zhang's mouth widening in an exclamation of understanding. Ah, he finally gets it.

Yang Hai, catching his glance, smirked at him. He listened to the reporter for a moment, then huffed out a breath of laughter. "Oh, I agree. Weiqi is rooted in our culture. It will always be here. No, I don't think even AlphaGo is unbeatable. Right. Right. Lee is still playing the other two games, right? I can arrange that. Next month, perhaps? All right. Let's have a drink some other time. Bye!"

He ended the call and thumbed at the screen, saving the number into his contacts. "Interesting," he remarked, with a look at Le Ping.

"You're up to something," Le Ping asked, instantly suspicious.

"Oh, nothing," Yang Hai trilled. "Only that I've got you booked to play with AlphaGo next month."

"What!" Le Ping wasn't sure, but he thought he saw Yang Hai wink at Isumi.

Date: 2016-03-13 10:11 pm (UTC)
lanerose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lanerose
"You're up to something," Le Ping asked, instantly suspicious.

"Oh, nothing," Yang Hai trilled. "Only that I've got you booked to play with AlphaGo next month."


Perfect. Seriously, seriously perfect.

Date: 2016-03-14 02:15 am (UTC)
qem_chibati: Coloured picture of Killua from hunter x hunter, with the symbol of Qem in the corner. (A cat made from Q, E, M) (Default)
From: [personal profile] qem_chibati
Hahaha, Yang Hai telling Le Ping that he was booked next month to play alpha go was priceless.

I also really liked how Yang Hai spoke about the game and it's traditions and history and the way his team approached the problem differently. (The touch about running out of funding was alas so realistic.)

Date: 2016-03-14 09:22 pm (UTC)
flonnebonne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] flonnebonne
Ah haha that ending is perfect! I love the idea of Le Ping befuddling AlphaGo (and it does seem like AlphaGo is befuddle-able) next month.

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