An intelligence to reckon with in the future

Lee Sedol (inset)

Lee Sedol (inset)

Certainly, I am not talking about the intelligence of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and much less of their party’s senatorial slate, considering that it is an election year.

What I am talking about here is artificial intelligence, more known by its acronym AI.

AI is defined as the branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans. The term was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suffice to say that the machines are programmed for them to have the ability to seem like they have human intelligence.

While we have seen or heard AI specialization applied in robotics, which is programming computers to see and hear and react to other sensory stimuli, nothing has amazed us more than the work done by programmers in computers to play games against human opponents.

This is where the greatest advances of installing AI has occurred – in the fields of games playing.

The best computer chess programs are now capable of beating humans. We have all heard how former world chess champion Gary Kasparov was surprisingly, yet convincingly, beaten by an IBM super-computer called Deep Blue in a chess match years back.

Recently, the world was astonished when the programming of Google’s AlphaGo computer won the first of five matches against one of the world’s top players of a complex board game, Go, marking a dramatic advance for the field of AI.

South Korean professional player Lee Sedol, the holder of 18 international titles, conceded defeat in a match broadcast live, with one YouTube stream drawing tens of thousands of spectators worldwide, while domestic television gave frequent updates.

AlphaGo had made history in October, by becoming the first computer program ever to beat a human professional player at the ancient Asian game, which many experts consider to be the most fiendishly complicated of its kind.

But 33-year-old Lee, a much more challenging opponent, was considered a bigger hurdle for a machine to vanquish.

Lee expressed surprise at his loss.

“I didn’t think AlphaGo would play the game in such a perfect manner,” he told reporters after the match. “I would like to express my respect to the programmers for making such an amazing program.”

Go, most popular in countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, involves two contestants moving black and white stones on a square grid, with the aim of seizing the most territory.

One can’t help wondering how it would be for Lee in the succeeding games.


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