It is said that the board game, Go, has more moves and variations than there are atoms in the universe. Even if that is a bit of an exaggeration, the number of possible moves is wild. It makes chess look like checkers. Go is the oldest and most popular board game in human history.
It should be no surprise to discover that AI was built to see if it could beat humans. And in 2016, it succeeded beating Go Master, Lee Sedol, in four out of five matches. But the thing that surprised the world more than AI beating a human at Go was what happened on Move 37.
Move 37 has been described as the moment in this particular match where the opponent must decide whether they are going to play offense or defense. Instead, AlphaGo played a surprise move that no human would ever play. In fact, it would have been a 1 in 10,000 chance a human would pick this strategy. It shocked so many viewers that many wondered if it was a mistake or a bad move. Lee Sedol was taken aback that he had to leave the room and go take a walk. It was a never before seen type of move in the Go world.
We don’t feel comfortable with the idea that AI can be creative. That has been one of human’s greatest strengths. The difference is humans can only draw from their own experience while AI can draw from the collective.
The lesson is clear: AI doesn’t have a narrative. When built correctly, it will follow the data. It isn’t constrained to play the game as we have been taught. As a result, opens new possibilities that we can’t possibly see because of our biases and prejudices that get in the way. In other words, it doesn’t play the game as we see it.