A loss for humanity! Man succumbs to machine!
If you heard about AlphaGo's latest exploits last week — crushing the world's best Go player and confirming that artificial intelligence had mastered the ancient Chinese board game — you may have heard the news delivered in doomsday terms.
There was a certain melancholy to Ke Jie's capitulation, to be sure. The 19-year-old Chinese prodigy declared he would never lose to an AI following AlphaGo's earthshaking victory over Lee Se-dol last year. To see him onstage last week, nearly bent double over the Go board and fidgeting with his hair, was to see a man comprehensively put in his place.
But focusing on that would miss the point. DeepMind, the Google-owned company that developed AlphaGo, isn't attempting to crush humanity — after all, the company is made up of humans itself. AlphaGo represents a major human achievement and the takeaway shouldn't be that AI is surpassing our abilities, but instead that AI will enhance our abilities.