For a brief moment last spring, the world was looking at artificial intelligence because it beat the world champion at Go, the ancient game that was long thought to be unplayable by A.I. because it requires human-like contextual thinking to win.
On Thursday, news of a documentary about that moment was announced and will show at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival at the end of April. The film is directed by Greg Kohs and follows the story of how the Google DeepMind team played through the go tournament and beat Lee Sedol — the world’s best go player who had dominated the international field for the last decade. The brief synopsis for the festival reads:
With simple rules but a near-infinite number of possible outcomes, the ancient Chinese board game go has long been considered the holy grail of artificial intelligence. Director Greg Kohs’ absorbing documentary chronicles Google’s DeepMind team as it takes on one of the world’s top go players in a weeklong tournament, pitting man against machine in a competition that reveals as much about the workings of the human mind as it does the future of A.I.
Go sounds like a simple game — two players place different colored stones on a checkered board, trying to capture their opponent’s stones by surrounding them with nine of their own. Unlike chess, it has a nearly infinite number of possible outcomes and ways to play. Because it requires an element of human context — the ability to decide which possibilities were bad ones and reading of an opponent, it was considered nearly impossible for an A.I. to beat a human player.
That was until the AlphaGo program played against Lee Sedol in a tournament that took a week to play, five matches between March 9-15 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, South Korea. It became the first program to beat a professional Go player, and in doing so showed an advancement of artificial intelligence that took the world by surprise.
AlphaGo is one of 16 feature-length documentaries that will have their world premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival between April 19-30. The program only went 4-1 against Sedol, in a shocking fourth game that will be fascinating to see behind the scenes.