Hi Reddit!

We are the folks in the Go community who helped with the Google Deepmind Challenge Match between AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol last week in Seoul. You might've read about it, it made the front page of r/worldnews a couple times last week:

We are:

  • Michael Redmond 9p (Pro Go player, commented games on the official Deepmind stream) - /u/redmond9p
  • Myungwan Kim 9p (Pro Go Player, commented games on the AGA stream) - /u/bigtory
  • Hajin Lee 3p (Pro Go Player, Secretary General of the International Go Federation and translator/organizer between the Korea Baduk Association and Google) - /u/summerapple
  • Andy Okun (AGA President) - /u/aga-president
  • Chris Garlock (AGA VP Communications, commented games on the official Deepmind stream) - /u/aga-comms
  • Andrew Jackson (AGA VP Operations, commented games on the AGA stream) - /u/seigenblues

Ask us anything~! We'll start answering around 6:00pm PDT/9:00 pm EDT. Mr. Redmond will be a little late.

Proof: https://twitter.com/theaga/status/710990706836250624

Edit: It might help your question get answered if you clarify who it's for or if it's for all of us :)

Edit2: ok, i think Michael will come on through here in a bit and Andy's hanging on, but we should probably close this down to new questions! Thanks everyone!

Comments: 708 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

emauton435 karma

I thought that Michael Redmond and Chris Garlock made a great team, particularly in later games.

Thanks very much for guiding us through a fascinating match.

Is there any chance that we might see more professional games with commentary from you two? :o)

aga-comms371 karma

Yes, Michael and I are working on plans to do more commentaries on the AGA's YouTube channel. Stay tuned!

seigenblues127 karma


KrYooNANAra159 karma

Haylee, how proud are you for calling Lee Sedol's wedge in game 4 before he wrecked AlphaGo with it?

How was the atmosphere in Seoul during the games?

Did Lee Sedol made a mistake choosing black in the last game and then playing a strategy that Michael said was more suited for white?

Thanks all of you for your efforts in promoting go!

seigenblues90 karma

i bet she'll be pretty modest, but i was super impressed :3

MakeAutomata92 karma


seigenblues126 karma

yeah we definitely saw a bump! Not to mention all the kidz with their KGS names "sai111" & etc ;)

Our sister organization, the American Go Foundation, will send school libraries a complete set of HnG if they ask for one!

My thoughts: I loved it :3

Berengal87 karma

In ancient times it was thought that being good at Go could make you a skilled strategist or tactician in warfare. Those of you who have been playing Go for a long time, are there any skills, ideas or philosophies Go has taught you that you feel are applicable elsewhere in life as well?

seigenblues79 karma

I've found it's helped me in nearly every part of my life, starting with how i converse with people and working my way up.

YMMV, naturally ;)

Baunk61 karma

The match between LSD and AG really invigorated my interest for baduk.

What advice would you guys give to someone who is interested in the game but feels that it is a bit too overwhelming?

Also which part of the game is the most important to focus on, Early, Mid or late?

seigenblues52 karma

The advice i'd give is: Don't stress about it :) The proverb says to 'lose your first 100 games as quickly as possible', and it's probably good advice. It's easier said than done, though, especially for folks who are inclined to be very competitive!

Relax, have fun when you play, and find something interesting in each game.

Otherwise, i'd say focusing on reading and life & death are the most important things to work on.

the_real_rad49 karma

The work you guys are doing with the AGA Youtube channel is just great for growing the go community. Keep it going! Are there any opportunities for volunteers to help? What are your needs? What should someone do or who should one contact to chip in?

seigenblues46 karma

Opportunities: yes, i think so! I'd love someone who could help produce them so i could focus on the game, but that's probably difficult to do remotely.

there are tons of volunteer opportunities w/ the AGA though -- shoot me a message at [email protected] and introduce yourself :)

Herr__K47 karma

A question for the AGA fellows(or anyone, really): How can a new go hobbyist like me help to spread the popularity of go? Is there anything I can do further than participating in go clubs and forcing friends to play go with me? Thanks!

seigenblues81 karma

Great question, wish i knew a silver-bullet answer.

I've found probably the best thing to do is that, when you're teaching or showing the game to some one, not to get focused on getting across a ton of material, and instead to focus on making sure that at the end of it they want to play more. This involves kind of reading what they are interested in and tailoring your pitch accordingly.

I've seen a lot of enthusiastic go players basically overwhelm or turn-off new players through their eagerness to teach everything all at once.

I guess it's similar to canvassing for a politician: They may not remember the policy you discuss, but they will remember whether or not they liked you.

But without a doubt, the best way to do it is to become an active part of your local community: Go to club regularly, be friendly and welcoming, and help put on events.

artie_fm40 karma

What's the most notable thing you realized about the matches after they were over?

seigenblues79 karma

just how many people were paying attention. I think we overheard it being discussed at the table next to us every single time we went out to dinner. It was on the front page of the paper every single day. The superbowl doesn't have the same per-capita penetration as this match did in KR.

Pizat1930 karma

Hey guys. My question is about the production format differences in coverage of AlphaGo v. Lee Sedol, and of course, future large matchups and event coverage by the AGA. Personally, I vastly preferred the format of Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock on the Google Deepmind stream over the AGA stream; I found it much more engaging and the dynamic between Garlock and Redmond and their dialog felt much more inclusive and interactive (with that great play board), while the AGA stream Andrew and Myungwan 9P and other floating commentators had much less prepared content and that infamous lackluster KGS board.

My question is: How much was the AGA involved in the DeepMind stream, and, if we could agree the DeepMind stream was superior from a production/content standpoint, to what lengths would the AGA be willing to mimic the model? Is the quality discrepancy between streams simply cost related? Caster chemistry? Logistics? I ask because I'd love to support a proper, regular English casting/commentary and I feel like we had a real winner here.

seigenblues53 karma

Yeah, i agree. it's frustrating to make amateur content when you know it'll be directly compared to something professional.

The deepmind folks had an actual video production company shoot and produce those videos, with like a real video producer, camera operators, audio engineers, big fancy mixing board, the whole shmeer. i've priced similar services for things like the Go Congress and they're like $5k and up -- more for a whole week.

The AGA stream is a couple laptops and a Skype call from Andy's hotel room.

There's probably a sweet spot in the middle, but I don't know what it is.

TheWilliham25 karma

Out of 5 games; White won four.

Is this an indication that the 7.5 point komi offered was too large; and that the notions we have of how strong White is over Black are exaggerated?

seigenblues52 karma

nah, i don't think these particular games are statistically significant one way or the other.

I'd look at the x-thousand pro games played in a year, see what percent is won by white, and if it's over 50% by 'too much', maybe it's too high, yeah. IANA statistician ;)

Zhaomaster24 karma

When and how did you guys start learning go?

seigenblues41 karma

I learned from my Dad, who learned from a guy who was in 'nam. I didn't really start studying it seriously until college, where i basically failed my freshman classes as a result ;) I was self-taught via books & KGS until 2d, and then i spent a summer in China and got up to 5d, and have been drifting down ever since.

omenemo24 karma

What books or study groups would you recommend? I've been looking at American Yunguseng.

seigenblues24 karma

that'd depend on your level. It's probably worth asking at r/baduk as well

omenemo21 karma

Considering how widely televised / widely covered this event was have you noticed growth in the AGA?

What are your impressions on the future of Go's popularity outside of Asia because of AlphaGo?

seigenblues24 karma

I know our website has been visited more and our YT channel has gotten a bunch of traffic! Hopefully that'll stick.

The AlphaGo event definitely put Go in front of a lot of new eyeballs. Whether or not that converts into folks who fall in love with it, or if the match'll just elicit a 'well now a computer can win what's next' response, is the big question.

Certainly the idea of having a good AI for people to play against could really get people over that first hump where the game seems incomprehensible would be great, but Zen et al. could already do that.

Jury's out.

kashomon19 karma

Google has said that they would give the 1million to charity if AlphaGo won. So, do we know if any of it will go to the AGA or other Go organizations yet?

seigenblues22 karma

I haven't heard about it yet. They were pretty focused on the match!

koi-koi19 karma

The popularity of the game has more than doubled on OGS since the LSD/AlphaGo match. How can the reddit community and players in general help promote the game and maintain the new player base, and how is this done in Asia?

seigenblues29 karma

How to keep the newbiews around? keep being friendly, cool & respectful :)

Part of the reason it's easier in Asia is the cultural respect afforded to go: Go professionals are right up there with doctors & lawyers as well respected professions.

snowchugger5219 karma

How strong do you guys think Alphago really is after watching the series with Lee Sedol? There was a lot of talk after game 3 that Alphago was already superhuman in its ability to play go, but that was somewhat stifled after game 4. Do you think the game 4 result can be attributed to a bug in the program, or is Alphago actually playing around Lee Sedol's level?

seigenblues21 karma

In another 5-game set vs the same software, i'd bet on a 3-2 result

nofap31415917 karma

What got you into go, and what gave you the motivation to improve?

A friend who was into anime taught me the game in high school. I really enjoyed it, but now a part of me feels that, because computers are better than humans, it's lost the aspect that made it special. Do you feel the same way?

seigenblues30 karma

My Dad taught me the rules, but i didn't really get into it until college.

My motivation to improve was sparked in college by reading "Attack and Defense" by Ishida, and realizing just how deep the rabbit hole goes...

I'm actually kinda excited by computers being good at it finally, because of how they're good at it. It's not like it's using some explicit rule-based thing at blinding speeds, like chess' piece evaluation, which means figuring out why it plays which moves will still involve building some theoretical framework to understand what it does. Interpreting why a neural net does what it does, making sense of it in a useful way, that'll probably be pretty similar to interpreting why a go teacher says something is good or bad and trying to figure that out.

that might not make sense to anyone but me :)

snowchugger5216 karma

What Go rank does Andy Okun, Chris Garlock, and Andrew each hold? How are amateur ranks determined in Go? Thank you.

seigenblues25 karma

I'm 4d, i think Chris is 3d and Andy is 2d; the amateur ranks are determined by the ratings, which are done with some bayesian math. Basically, you earn the rating you can defend.

Read more about the system here: http://www.usgo.org/ratings

pdpi12 karma

Alpha go's strategy seemed to be pretty novel -- Part of its dominance seems to come from identifying when it's the tiniest bit ahead, then defending that margin to the exclusion of all else.

Is this something that's feasible for human players to adopt as a dominant strategy? Is it even desirable? Or does it depend too much on the computer's perception of the game?

seigenblues14 karma

it's probably hard for humans to do because it's contrary to the mental attitude needed to play well, the idea that you'll fight for every point. Not a pro, though...

bcas198412 karma

For any of the AGA folks.

Are there any plans to have AGA rated online games/tournaments? If so, I'd be glad to hear more of the details. If not, what are the obstacles to holding such an event?

seigenblues19 karma

yes! Some AGA tournaments like the Young Kwon National Online Tournament (YKNOT) are AGA rated tournaments that happen online. There's also the AGA city league held on IGS.

More interesting is the plan to have an 'online rating' protocol that will allow any go server to tell us about rated games between members. Plans are underway to integrate with OGS and KGS first and move to IGS/Tygem after it's proven.

we've got code on github if you're interested, github.com/usgo

sou1eater11 karma

Hello guys! First off, thank you all so much for giving us your time and visiting our quaint community. Secondly, Redmond, you did a most excellent job commentating, most notably in the 5th match.

One of the most exciting features of AlphaGO vs Sedol (or any other 9p) is that we get to see moves never before played that are highly effective. How rapidly do you guys believe Baduk and professional Baduk will change now that we've got an influx of new styles and moves?

Bonus thought: I have an interesting hypothesis on why AlphaGO made the most odd error in game 4 (I can't find the move number, but it was the move in the lower left played between two of Lee's stones). I believe that after realizing how good Lee's move 78 was, she might've attempted to play a move in similar form. If you notice, there are quite a few similarities between the most local board position of the moves.

Bonus bonus thought! I also noticed that one of AlphaGO's weaknesses is, ironically, being put into a super deep sequence. In game 5, the tombstone could not be read by AlphaGO because before she reached the depth in the move tree to see that she was losing, she would shift her thoughts to other possibilities. This can also be seen after move 78 when she misplayed 79. A deep sequence simply brings too many permutations for AlphaGO to confidently find the optimal move.

seigenblues9 karma

I think we'll need more than just these 5 games to see things change. I'm not a pro, though ;)

Spuddy34511 karma

Mr Garlock and Mr. Jackson, the Lee-AlphaGo match has been a big success for the AGA. Is there anything you think my national association (Brit Go Assoc) can do to capitalise on current interest? What kind of things will the AGA be doing to promote go on the back of this?

seigenblues11 karma

I don't know much about Go in the UK so i'm not sure what it can do beyond make itself available, answer the phone, and revisit possible sponsors.

For me, I'm hoping we can launch our online-rating system soon and make it easier for folks to play rated games on the server of their choice. I'm also hoping the event helps open doors for corporate sponsors who might've seen the level of attention this got in Asia and want to advertise accordingly.

bcas198410 karma

For any of you.

Were there any moves from AlphaGo that are particularly memorable? For example, a move that seemed strange at first, but as the game progressed proved to be particularly good or bad.

seigenblues17 karma

the shoulder hit in game 2, the sake bottle response to the invasion in game 2, the elephant jump down in game 3... they were scary moves.

jivjov10 karma

Question for the Go players; other than the standard beginner advice, what tips and tricks can you give to beginning players; or advice you wish you had received when you were beginners?

seigenblues11 karma

advice i wish i'd received would be "don't get discouraged and keep it in perspective". All the other good meta-lessons you kinda need to learn for yourself ;) "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" and all that jazz.

bigcakes10 karma

The main thing is I just wanted to say watching the AlphaGo match and the commentary made me interested in learning about Go and I have been studying a lot lately.

Everyone: How long do you play Go each day on average?

seigenblues9 karma

I do something related to go almost every day. If it's not organizing related, it's problems or preparation for the classes i teach at the seattle go center

mafidufa10 karma

My question is for any/all of you. How much difference do you think it would it have made in the match if Lee Sedol was given as much time as he wanted to make his move (keeping alphago on the clock though)?

seigenblues16 karma

My personal (and useless) opinion is that Lee would win a blitz game vs alphago. Human pruning is still much more efficient, and MCTS needs time to converge even with a good policy network.

danns8 karma

This is a question for everyone. In your point of view, how will this 5 game match affect the world of go? Do you believe that this will lead pros to try more interesting variations (perhaps a shin shin fuseki era)? Also, just in general, the mindset of how pros approach the game, I feel, would change a lot(not sure how though.) Do you guys have any thoughts on the matter? Will this parallel the way chess went post-deep blue?

Also, for the pros, what propelled you to try and become a pro? That's an incredible commitment, and I'm interested in what kind of childhood you guys had. Especially Michael, moving to japan to become an insei? That's really cool!

seigenblues10 karma

I think it's exciting that the Deepmind team released a paper immediately that will let folks work on replicating these results. there's already an open-source AlphaGo in the works! Compared to IBM, which dismantled DeepBlue and took years before publishing anything, this is pretty huge.

I think it'll be a little different than chess, because chess engines now basically show you the line and you have to accept it as right. Trying to make your "value-network" approximate AG's value network will be much more interesting to do.

As for pro's childhoods, you can read Hajin's book about her experiences, available on amazon and from most major online booksellers: http://www.amazon.com/Outside-Board-Diary-Professional-Player/dp/1945025018

alcibiad7 karma

Hi! Thank you guys so much for your hard work in the last couple weeks. My question is: what should a beginner focus on in his/her self study time to help him improve? Assuming the ideal situation where he also plays live games with other beginners and the occasional higher ranked player.

seigenblues7 karma

life and death problems :) Tsumego.tasuki.org is a good site with a bunch of free ones

omenemo7 karma

Do you guys play at all online and if so which networks do you prefer and what are your usernames?

seigenblues11 karma

Yep, KGS and OGS.

omenemo7 karma

For: /u/seigenblues, /u/aga-president, and/or /u/aga-comms

In lieu of the success and growth experienced of the AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol matches and increased traffic to your website would you consider modernising your content marketing strategy and online presence (websites, etc) to expand the reach of both the AGA and Go in general?

seigenblues12 karma

Sure, what would you do to modernise it? How would you change the strategy?

Also, would you want to help? ;) It's an all volunteer organization, so an overhaul of our marketing strategy means finding the scarce volunteer hours to do it.

omenemo7 karma

Sure I'd be down with helping. I love go and I love how involved you guys are in the community.

What's the best way to reach you outside of Reddit?

ProfAbroad7 karma

Thank you all for doing this. In the AGA stream Kim said he would pay a lot town alphago. For everyone, how much would you pay to play AlphaGo or yo own it?

seigenblues13 karma

i'd pay a few hundred dollars, sure. I'd say more, but I'd probably would need a better computer to go with it ;)

asswhorl6 karma

Who do you think will win in Ke Jie vs AlphaGo and will the match be very different compared to the recent series?

seigenblues7 karma

That would probably depend on if Ke Jie plays the same AlphaGo or whatever new one they're developing. Demis mentioned in the opening press conference that the technique used to train the value network was still producing results, i.e., it was still getting better.

No question though Ke Jie has a different style though, so it'd be great to see how AG would handle it.

mrpulp6 karma

What are good opportunities for people to play go when there aren't a lot of local players? I.e. if you don't live in Seattle. Is the best option just to play online?

seigenblues11 karma

definitely check the AGA site to see if there's a club near you! www.usgo.org

otherwise, you can try starting one :D Failing that, yeah, playing online is pretty good.

But a good way to bootstrap a club is to find one person you can play a lot, play someplace visible -- a coffeeshop or wherever, and just keep going there. Smile a lot. I dunno. It's hard :)

tekoyaki5 karma

If AlphaGo plays on Tygem server, which animal avatar is appropriate for it?

seigenblues8 karma

the sheep.

imperfectcarpet5 karma

This question is for any or all of you. What's a particular funny moment that happened during the programming process?

seigenblues5 karma

haha, none of us are the programmers -- sorry!

PackersFarvever4 karma

How would you go about getting into Go (no pun intended). I play a ton of Magic the Gathering and poker competetively and I hear a lot of good things about Go. How do you get good at it and where are some good places to play?

Is there coaching? Is it expensive?

Also how much does the game compare to chess?

Thanks for doing the AMA.

seigenblues7 karma

check out the online go server (OGS) at online-go.com, or KGS at www.gokgs.com (requires java)

There are plenty of folks who teach, which you can find online for varying rates.

r/baduk is a great resource, theres also a wiki, at http://senseis.xmp.net

and it's way more fun than chess ;)

vagif4 karma

Is there a plan to make a new Alpha Go from scratch, without any learning or influence from human knowledge (learning on human games, using human accumulated knowledge like openings, tesuji etc.)?

seigenblues9 karma

I thought they said something about throwing out their policy network and training a new one only using the evaluation network, but i can't find a citation right now.

cryonerve3 karma

Can you ELI5 why AlphaGo is an AI, vs. just a well trained program that does one task really well?

seigenblues13 karma

probably not! :) I think i'm the only programmer on the team, and even then i don't write AI...

To take a stab at it, though, the 'neural networks' that make up alphago are trained rather than explicitly programmed. So when alphago makes one move instead of another, it can't always be traced to any individual line of code -- it was the product of lots and lots of training data. This means it's behavior has to be interpreted, kind of like how an animal trainer has to figure out what combinations of stimulus made an animal react one way instead of another.

There's a great overview here: http://www.dcine.com/2016/01/28/alphago/

no_choice993 karma

I'd like to know what are the chances we could see Alphago vs Ke Jie in say, less than a year from now?

seigenblues10 karma

unfortunately, none of us are affiliated with the Deepmind team, and that's really their call... It did sound like they were interested!

Nifty_Cent3 karma

As a person who's just started to get interested in Go in the last few months, it was crazy watching those games and seeing the level of skill both Lee Sedol and Alphago played at, I could barely keep up with the match. I lived the commentary from Chris Garlock and Michael Redmond, it made the games much easier to understand.

How much will these 5 games advance the level of play in the professional world of Go? I know that several moves made by Alphago have been seen as revolutionary, and will be studied a lot, but will it create a noticeable change in the playing style of great Go players?

Thanks a lot for doing the AMA, and huge respect for all your work on Alphago, its a great achievement in technology and Go!

seigenblues4 karma

I think we'll need more than just 5 games for it to start affecting pro play.

Also, none of us actually worked on AlphaGo, we were just there for the match ;) Sorry for the bait & switch!

omenemo2 karma

Have you guys been at all involved in / been interviewed for the documentary The Surrounding Game?

seigenblues5 karma

i'm excited to see it when it comes out this year!