AlphaGo ★★★★½

I've never quite understood the strategy and subtleties of the ancient board game GO. But I do know a bit about AI (artificial intelligence.) Much the way that IBM developed Deep Blue to beat the world chess champion, Google subsidiary Deep Mind programmed a computer named AlphaGo to attempt to beat the world's greatest Go player, a Korean named Lee Sedol. None of the programmers were expert Go players. Rather, as explained in the film, the program was designed as a neural network which allowed the computer to teach itself how to play intuitively and dynamically improve its odds of winning. However, nobody expected the computer to actually prevail this early in the program's development.

The heart of the film is a five game match that took place in 2016 in Seoul between Lee and AlphaGo. Even though the games themselves were hard for a non-player to follow despite the media commentary at the time, the film was edited so skillfully that each of the five games had all of the suspense and rooting interest of a superior sports documentary about a more familiar sport (e.g. chess or basketball.) Human vs. machine. GO nerd vs. tech nerds. Past vs. future. John Connor vs. Skynet. Chances are, like me, you weren't paying attention the way 60,000,000 Chinese were at the time; but this rousing, intelligent documentary takes you there up close and personal. Nice job.

Ken liked this review