What if we taught Alpha Go Zero to play the most entertaining game?
Programmers loves optimizations. They will tinker for hours to increase the speed of analyzing a game and work on a sub-routine for moves in a game board position that predict 50 moves ahead.
This make a for a very lofty goal, which is creating a program that can play the game of Go against the best human players that have existed. It’s mind blowing how that kind of thing must feel for the programmer. What an achievement! To have created something no one, particularly experts, thought would be possible for generations. Alpha Go Zero did it without any help from previous human games.
Now that it’s been accomplished, and seriously it’s amazing, the team has rightfully moved on to look at more “serious” matters like finding tumors that doctors might miss and making the roads safer with automated driving. You want the next challenge, I understand that. But I think the work with the board game Go is missing something. An opportunity to really test these brilliant minds and to shape the coming age of Artificial Intelligence.
Make a version of Alpha Go that doesn’t play the best move, but rather the most entertaining move.
We’re humans. In fact, I’ll go further and say we’re only humans. And if you sit me in front of Alpha Go Zero to play a game I’m going to lose. I’m only 20k, so there’s no doubt about the outcome. In fact, I’m going to know that I’m going to lose and I don’t think I would enjoy playing after a few games. The novelty of playing a computer is lost pretty fast when you just aren’t going to win.
But what if Alpha Go played differently?
What if it played the most entertaining game of Go I’d ever played? Thrilling because it was right in that sweet spot of challenging and the outcome was unknown. Where my really bad moves lost me a few points instead, of the game, and my good moves were rewarded by reasonable and sound responses, but not nearly perfectly optimized winning moves?
What if Alpha Go played like a teacher who loved its student and just wanted to me to have some fun and grow as a player? Optimized not to win the game, but to win my heart? To actively and engagingly create a human experience.
Such a creation, in my opinion, would be far superior to what has been accomplished so far: and much harder.
Humans are the goal. Alpha Go has shown that it can beat the best players, but the best players are more fascinated by what they are learning about the game of Go from the program. That level of fascination could happen for all skill levels, for all players. That’s the promise of AI that we deserve, as humans. While tasks we performed in all walks of life are increasingly replaced by automation, we have to keep track of a goal. AIs are not the end, but a means for human enjoyment and happiness in life.
Finish Alpha Go Zero. Make it the most fun computer program to play for any human player. Then you will have done something useful for all humans. Then I can see a path where computers aren’t something people have to be afraid of, but look forward to. Yes, it’s incredible to optimized and create the most advanced machine learning subroutine that makes the very best moves, but to make a move that is the best move for the human opponent, at any level, is truly a challenge beyond what has been accomplished so far.
If you could do that, then we would all be moving into a brighter future.
[Edit: This is a cross post from another place, another account, and as such there is much debate. Be civil and thoughtful.]