AlphaGo and me

 

Looking back on my childhood, my father, a former Horn player, enjoyed playing Baduk with his friend (and also our neighbor). He still likes to watch Baduk on TV. Though Baduk sometimes has regarded as an old-fashioned hobby, it is still popular in Korea. As Korean Baduk players have accomplished numerous wins in many important international matches, young baduk players have often been reported in the newspaper. Lee Sedol was the wunderkind in this area among others. Unlooked-for developments in a game of Baduk made him reach the top spot in his teens.

This is why many Korean people were interested in Baduk match between Lee Sedol and AlphaGo, which was held on March 9-15 2016. Properly speaking, we desired for and believed in the result that Lee Sedol wins for AlphaGo. However, AlphaGo won the game by a score of 4-1. Lee Sedol’s defeat was a huge shock. What is worse, AlphaGo won the game with incomprehensible ways, and we could not understand how Lee won the one game. That is, we still could not grasp AlphaGo’s style. AlphaGo often looked to play the game in silly ways, but it’s moves abruptly led to the victory. Then Artificial Intelligence(AI) panicked the Korean. Since then, there have been many discourses through news reports, speeches and columns dealt with the predictable future that AI would take human’s job shortly.

This experience also made me think about technical and digital things more seriously. I felt I have to know these things more to prepare for the digital era. I want to try a new way of research rather than to change my research style thoroughly. Maybe I can apply some technical tools like statistical analysis or Big data to my study. I have my chronology list on opera performances in Korea (1948-2007), which I made in the process of writing my dissertation with the aid of my friends’ arduous work. I paid them with the scholarship money.

Shortage of reliable sources or official records in music area also make me have a kind of….sense of duty, which means no one said it is necessary..but I feel to contribute to making better database and analysis for others. But how can I approach this problem? Where can I start to study? I don’t know at all! And I didn’t have conviction if my plan will be feasible or not.

Questions related to my confused feelings about scientific technique and interest in its apply on my research solved by an unexpected way. Ossi Naukkarinen‘s illuminating and inspiring talk on “Aesthetics seen through the web of science and other digital databases” in the ICA(International Congress of Aesthetics), which was held on July 24-29 in Seoul National University, was enough to quench my thirst with digital techniques. He demonstrated the fact that ‘computational approaches cannot replace philosophical analyses of aesthetics’ after detailed analysis offered by academic databases.

His talk solved my vague fear of scientific technique. Today we frequently feel like to do everything with technology, but the computer cannot find which one is better or not. There are still rooms for the human. Naukkarinen also answered my question about the way of research that I would better cooperate with other researchers or make group study. I have in mind to make co-author for writing a paper using data analysis.

The sense of unease about AI makes me think the apply of statistics on my study seriously. I figured I have to know it. Then I would feel to free from the fear that I feel like the useless in front of the computer. Looking back on my past five months, this concern seems to lead me to more productive way. Thanks to AlphaGo, and Thanks to Naukkarinen.

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