[Beowulf] Wired article about Go machine

Steve Herborn herborn at usna.edu
Thu Mar 19 07:13:08 PDT 2009

While I don't intend to wane as philosophical as some in this thread, I
think many are forgetting one important aspect.  

The one thing that mankind has done for a very long time is used tools to
solve problems.  i.e. how do I kill that Mastodon better then with my
bare-hands? etc.  A computer playing Go against a human is just really
playing against the collective knowledge & abilities of humans to that point
in time.  It was humans who built the computer and wrote the software.  

If Computer-Go is improved its improvements will come from the hands & minds
of man and something is earned, our overall collective body-of-knowledge is
increased.  It may not be used to re-solve that particular problem, but
perhaps other problems in the future.

Also, if you get what you pay for -- exactly what do you get when you use
Open-source software?

Steven A. Herborn
U.S. Naval Academy
Advanced Research Computing
410-293-6480 (Desk)
757-418-0505 (Cell)

-----Original Message-----
From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On
Behalf Of Vincent Diepeveen
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 5:06 PM
To: Peter St. John
Cc: Beowulf Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Wired article about Go machine

Ken Thompson, with all respect forgets to mention something, that's that
there is nothing to earn with computer-go.

You get what you pay for.

Sometimes someone starts a go program first, in order to figure out the
above later. Instantly work stops then and worlds strongest go program no
longer gets maintained, let alone gets improved.

A few hobbyists will continue and progress very slowly as a result now at
clusters, using worlds most inefficient search that exists in game tree
They didn't
discover even yet how to use efficiently hashtables (which reduces the
search space exponential).

In short zero Einstein's in computer-go so far on the search front, whereas
the hardware they can get their hands on for computer-go is big, and there
is a lot possible in computer-go, forward pruning and selectivity works
better there than in chess (to say polite). Hopefully a Chinese Einstein one
day for computer-go search algorithms.

They already found a lot that works for computer-chess.

For super selective search however you definitely need a few clever guys.

It is interesting how you try to grab attention for a game where the
strongest current commercial go-program sold less copies than that past 24
hours there was posts on this mailing list.


On Mar 18, 2009, at 2:56 PM, Peter St. John wrote:

> This article at Wired is about Go playing computers: http:// 
> blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/03/gobrain.html
> Includes a pic of a 24 node cluster at Santa Cruz, and a YouTube video 
> of a famous game set to music :-)
> My beef, which started with Ken Thompson saying he was disappointed by 
> how little we learned about human cognition from chess computers, is 
> about statements like this:
> "People hoped that if we had a strong Go program, it would teach us 
> how our minds work. But that's not the case," said Bob Hearn, a 
> Dartmouth College artificial intelligence programmer. "We just threw 
> brute force at a program we thought required intellect."
> And yet the article points out:
> [our brain is an]...efficiently configured biological processor - 
> sporting 1015 neural connections, capable of 1016 calculations per 
> second
> Our brains do brute-force massively distributed computing. We just 
> aren't conscious of most of it.
> Peter
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