Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Google made international headlines last year when its artificial intelligence computer beat a Korean Go master in a series of games. It was a publicity coup. Google is at it again with a series of three games between the AI machine and the top-ranked Go player of the world. It has already won the first game with a much-improved system. This kind of publicity has a serious purpose -- to show the capabilities of the computer and to add credibility to claims of what the computer can do. Even if the machine should lose a close game the fact that it can play against a human master and acquit itself worthily is a mark in its favor. These kinds of demonstrations are not new. They have been done for hundreds of years but they work so they are used again and again. They show the confidence humans have in an invention such that they are willing to risk public failure. The chance of flaming out is what captures public interest and keeps it, if the event is successful.