Doc­u­men­tary, not rated, 90 min­utes, in English and Korean with sub­ti­tles,

Pasatiempo - - CAPSULE REVIEWS -

Ac­cord­ing to Frank Lantz, di­rec­tor of the NYU Game Cen­ter, play­ing Go “is like putting your hand on the third rail of the uni­verse.” Go is a board game for two play­ers. It’s con­tem­pla­tive, takes con­cen­tra­tion, and is the Chi­nese an­swer to chess, only older (the game, in­vented more than 2,500 years ago, is the world’s old­est con­tin­u­ously played board game). But di­rec­tor Greg Kohs’ doc­u­men­tary on the classic game of strat­egy is less about the game it­self or the peo­ple who play it than it is about ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. Go is con­sid­ered the ul­ti­mate test for AI, since, in the mod­ern age, games and com­put­ers go hand in hand.

The game, whose play­ers de­vote hours on end to ob­ses­sive com­pe­ti­tion, is sim­ple in the­ory. It’s played with small black-and-white stones. Points are gained by sur­round­ing your op­po­nent’s stones and re­mov­ing them to ob­tain more ter­ri­tory for your­self. The per­son with the most ter­ri­tory at the game’s end wins. But its sim­plic­ity is de­cep­tive. It’s been no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult for techies to pro­gram com­put­ers to play it, be­cause it has far more pos­si­ble moves and a seem­ingly end­less num­ber of pos­si­ble board con­fig­u­ra­tions (more than there are atoms in the uni­verse, states one pro­gram­mer in the film) when com­pared with other games.

The an­swer for the pro­gram­mers at Deep­Mind, a com­pany owned by Google, was to de­sign a sys­tem that taught it­self how to play, rather than have hu­mans try to teach it. The re­sult is suc­cess­ful and the AI ma­chine Al­phaGo was born. Fan Hui, a cham­pion Go player, goes against it in a tour­na­ment and loses ev­ery game. This leads to skep­ti­cism about his abil­i­ties, so Lee Sedol, a young South Korean player con­sid­ered to be among the world’s top-tier Go strate­gists, tries his hand with the pro­gram in what turns out to be an in­trigu­ing, dis­con­cert­ing, but ex­cit­ingly told story about the pos­si­bil­i­ties for AI. The ques­tion at the film’s heart is what it means for the fu­ture of hu­mankind when com­put­ers can out­smart us. But the doc­u­men­tary also waxes philo­soph­i­cal on what it ac­tu­ally means to be hu­man.

— Michael Abatemarco

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.