Go game – with the added extra of AI – held in Shanghai school

A special Go event was held at Shanghai Starriver Bilingual School over the weekend to inspire people to think about what education should do in the era of artificial intelligence.
Yang Meiping / SHINE

Google’s artificial intelligent AlphaGo and AlphaGo Zero recently caused amazement by defeating world-class Go players — causing many people to ponder: what next. 

A special event held at the Shanghai Starriver Bilingual School over the weekend attempted to offer pointers. Its aim was to inspire people think over what education should do in the era of artificial intelligence (AI).

A key part of the event was a competition between three students. With assistance from AI, two seventh graders from the school, ranked at 1-dan and 4-dan amateur level, jointly beat an 11th grader who was a 5-dan amateur player.

During their competition, the younger students could get five suggestions for each move from AI, while the options represented capabilities of players at different levels.

“When many people are worried about the possibility that human beings might be replaced by AI, they put themselves at the opposite side of technology,” said Tang Shengchang, superintendent of the school. “With this event, we hope to make people think over how human beings could utilize AI.”

Tang said the options given by AI included one from 9-dan players and if the students had always chosen the best one, their opponent would soon be defeated.

“When given the choices, the players also have to have the basic knowledge and ability to choose the best option,” said Tang. “The existence of AI doesn’t mean that we don’t have to do anything.”

“But educators do have to rethink about the knowledge system,” he added. “AI could help students with memorizing some knowledge, but students have to be cultivated with the ability to use AI and to make the final decisions.”

“The strongest talent in the future might not be someone with strongest self-ability, but one who can connect with AI best,” said Tang. “It’s just like the F1 racing drivers. They are not the fastest runners, but they ‘run’ fastest when driving the racing cars well.”

Tang said it was the first lesson for relationship between human beings and AI and more events will be held at the school in the future.

Among those on hand to monitor how things went were Liu Shizhen, deputy director of the Shanghai Go Academy, and Rui Naiwei, the female world champion of Go.

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