Thursday, January 03, 2019

Finesse of a Virtuoso, Power of a Machine

Something to mull over, "One Giant Step for a Chess-Playing Machine," is an article published on December 26, 2018 in the NYT by Steven Strogatz, a professor of mathematics at Cornell (and don't be fazed by my re-wording):
AlphaZero has not grown stronger in the past twelve months, but the evidence of its superiority has. It clearly displays a breed of intellect that humans have not seen before, and that we will be mulling over for a long time to come . . . . [T]hese chess "engines" [seem to] have real understanding of the game. They [do not] have to be tutored in the basic principles of chess . . . . These principles, which have been refined over decades of human grandmaster experience, are programmed into the engines as complex evaluation functions that indicate what to seek in a position and what to avoid: how much to value king safety, piece activity, pawn structure, control of the center, and more, and how to balance the trade-offs among them . . . . All of that has [come] . . . with the rise of machine learning. By playing against itself and updating its neural network as it learned from experience, AlphaZero discovered the principles of chess on its own and quickly became the best player ever . . . . Most unnerving was that AlphaZero seemed to express insight. It played like no computer ever has, intuitively and beautifully, with a romantic, attacking style. It played gambits and took risks . . . . Grandmasters had never seen anything like it. AlphaZero had the finesse of a virtuoso and the power of a machine. It was humankind's first glimpse of an awesome new kind of intelligence.
This begins to sound ominous. But also over-romanticized. Strogatz ascribes personality to the machine. It has 'insight.' It has a real 'understanding' of the game. "[It has] 'discovered' the principles of chess on its own" (single quote marks mine).

But this machine is not a person. It lacks personhood. Doesn't it?



At 4:46 PM, Blogger smartalek said...

...OR DOES IT???

You DO realize...
We may not know
until it is too late.

At 4:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

How true.

Jeffery Hodges

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