JOHN MEANEY

9.3.16

DEEP THOUGHT

Today's AI news is that DeepMind's AlphaGo has won the first game against the Go world champion. As it happens, DeepMind's CEO gave a lecture at Oxford recently, and although I couldn't get there in person, the ubiquitous magic of tech allowed me to watch it streamed live. (I did manage to physically attend the first Ada Lovelace Memorial Lecture given by the awesome Barbara Liskov, a little while back.)

There's something missing from today's news reporting, which I happen to believe is significant.

Playing Go at this level requires a more "intuition"-based approach than chess, which is a significant difference between AlphaGo and Deep Blue (which beat the chess world champion back in the *gulp* last millennium). That's in the news reports, and correctly so.

The other distinction is that AlphaGo is not designed purely to play Go. It has learned the game, and an earlier project learned to play dozens of other games (all the old Atari games!), based only on an input of numbers, the ability to recognise patterns, and a goal of maximising its score. In other words, even that earlier software could adapt to a new game with new rules, something that DeepBlue could never achieve: it would require rewriting by its developers to cope with anything besides chess.

Although the overall constraint is game-playing, within that constraint the DeepMind AIs employ general learning algorithms (so-called "DQL"). And that, I suspect, is the most impressive part of all.

Meanwhile, I shouldn't be blogging... I've a book to write. Hence my vast silence for months now.

Cheers, all!

P.S. It belatedly occurs to me that my VERY FIRST STORY concerned an AI challenging its creator's father to a game of Go. That appeared just the other day, in 1992... Bloomin' heck!

4 Comments:

Blogger Michael Lo said...

Cheers, sorry if you had
already answered this in the
past, but a number of years
ago I read Bone Song and really
enjoyed its horror/SFnal take on
fantasy and film noir. I picked
up Black Blood and liked it a lot.

Given the cliff-hanger ending,
will there be any resolution to
Donal's fate? Or is the series
finished and it's a case of a
downbeat ending?

March 22, 2016 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger John Meaney said...

Hi Michael - I've answered this a while back, but my current answer is a little different, so thanks for asking!

My contract with both the UK and US publishers was for two books only, and the UK publishers in particular weren't interested when I suggested a third book afterwards, purely on the basis of sales figures. (For some people, those books are their favourites by far - but my hard SF/space opera sells more.)

This time last year, I was starting to write a non-SFF book that I realised needed a huge amount of research, so to avoid writing that book I, er, wrote a first draft of a third Tristopolis book!

When am I going to do something with it? I won't even be able to think about it seriously over the next seven months, then we'll see... Probably an ebook-only affair, one way or another...

March 25, 2016 at 1:37 AM  
Blogger Chris Mays said...

Delighted to hear a third Tristopolis novel is at least a possibility. Just reread Bone Song after first reading in 2009. So clever, still a lot of fun.

I've often wondered if Mr Blackthorne had a third one in him. But what would he call it? Choil? Pommel?

April 6, 2016 at 1:25 AM  
Blogger John Meaney said...

Having just had to google "choil", I think Mr Blackthorne would have to ask your advice on a third title... :)

April 8, 2016 at 9:41 PM  

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