This is the BBC headline for the news that Lee Se-dol, the Go grandmaster who was the last person to defeat Google’s Alpha Go is retiring from the professional Go Game. It’s genuinely sad to see.
On the one hand, it is very understandable that someone at the height of their craft finds it a big challenge to play in a context where they are no longer, and can never again be, the best “entity” at the game. I can only imagine it would feel like a drug-free Olympian would feel if significant performance-enhancing drugs are permitted for others.
On the other hand, AI surpassing humans in narrow fields is already a widespread reality in many domains and will continue. As a species, we will need to discover meaning in competing amongst fellow humans, in collaborating with AI and seeking new endeavors where humans still excel above and beyond machines.
These fields do exist and above all, the field of collaboration between humans and machines in teams seems to have huge potential.
Still, feel for Lee Se-dol and the Go world this day. Alpha Go’s skill is a huge achievement, but it does come with its own cost!