Artificial intelligence has been a new aspect to gaming technology in the past couple of years and has brought a new dimension to user experience. It has introduced the fascinating prospect of creating digital beings/competitors to interact and respond to other gamers. For example, Microsoft is exploring player modelling which is an ai system that learns how to act and react by observing how human players behave in game worlds (Stuart 2021).
This new technology brings the possibility of turning popular board games into an ai experience. The documentary directed by Greg Kohs in 2017 titles ‘ALPHAGO’ explores the creation of an ai controlled game of ‘Go’.
The ‘ALPHAGO’ documentary demonstrates the extensive love and passion for ‘Go’ across Asian communities and yet it also demonstrated much fear from these communities when Google Deep Mind introduced their latest project of an ai responsive Go competitor (called AlphaGo). When Google Deep Mind invited professional Go player Lee Sedol to a game against AlphaGo, the public found this humorous for they did not believe an ai system could possibly beat Sedol. However, once AlphaGo started to beat Sedol, numerous of times, this brought on fear and confusion towards ai.
This fear was first demonstrated as a response to the lack of emotion AlphaGo obviously did not show. It is said to be a habit to look across the board to observe your opponents emotions during a game of Go. This social interaction helps one identify their advance in the game and can help decipher which move should be played next. Therefore, when Sedol was versing AlphaGo it was only a habit for himself to look to try and read some emotion from AlphaGo, only to find nothing. It would have been an unnatural experience for Sedol and it seemed to heighten his nerves and effect the way he plays. Commentators stated Sedol “is exhausted” during his third round against AlphaGo, where AlphaGo did not have emotions that effected the way it performed. This brings to question whether this ai experiment is a positive social experience compared to the original human set up of Go.
However, the issue of AlphaGo’s lack of emotion was long forgotten in a particular move during the game. The ai system uses probability and references to human moves made in past Go games. With this said, in a particularly interesting round between Sidol, AlphaGo makes a move that is uncommon amongst many Go player. Against what the statistics had shown, AlphaGo decided to make a more creative move rather than popular move. Sedol himself made a remark stating;
“I thought AlphaGo was based on probability calculation and it was merely a machine. But when I saw this move, I changed my mind. Surely AlphaGo is creative. This move was really creative and beautiful.”Lee Sedol – ALPHAGO 2017
Could this been a new era of gaming where we can learn from ai? AlphaGo introduced a professional Go player not only a unique move but a new perspective to the game itself. This possibility of growth and new understanding towards the game of Go could bring together more Go players and start new conversations and connections. This live game against Sedol and AlphaGo created a new found excitement to the game of Go and it was stated that;
“As new players discovered the game, a worldwide shortage of Go boards was reported”ALPHAGO 2017
There is still an acknowledged fear towards ai, but this documentary has displayed not only a beautiful game of Go but a social transaction between AlphGo and Sidol. Sidol learnt and grew during his competitive match against AlphaGo. Also, the team behind AlphaGo had learnt much about the nature and possibilities of ai and how it could best benefit gamers like Sedol in the future.
In an era of increased digital use and technological advances within many different online domains in Asia, it is clear that we are about to see more examples of highly intelligent and creative forms of gaming, artificial intelligence and social transactions in the near future.
ALPHAGO 2017, documentary, DeepMind Technologies, United States of America, directed by Greg Kohs.
Stuart, K 2021, ‘Think, fight, feel: how video game artificial intelligence is evolving’, The Guardian, weblog post, 19 July, viewed 13 August 2021, <https://www.theguardian.com/games/2021/jul/19/video-gaming-artificial-intelligence-ai-is-evolving>.
TEDx Talks 2019, How the ancient game of Go is a guide to modern life – Silvia Lozeva – TEDxPerth, online video, 17 December, TEDx Talks, viewed 13 August 2021, <How the ancient game of Go is a guide to modern life | Silvia Lozeva | TEDxPerth>.