The Ultimate Battle of Man v. Machine... Played out on a Game Board ("Movie Monday")
Sometimes we all need a little shock to the system—something unexpected, that we know nothing about—to grab our attention, making us sit up and take note. And sure, sometimes the reason we know nothing about whatever is because it really doesn’t hold any relevance for us…but I suspect that’s the case far less often than we might think; if presented in the right way, almost anything can be fascinating.
Take “Go”. (I know. If you’re like me, you’re all, “Ummm… that’s some sort of… uh, board game, right?”—and thus ends the sum total of your knowledge on that.)
But wait… it can actually be pretty darn interesting… especially when made sort of futuristic-sci-fi-happenin’-right-the-hell-NOW, as in the surprisingly-engrossing 2017 documentary, AlphaGo (currently available to stream on Netflix).
Take a little tech company, whose founders have been working on Artificial Intelligence applications—namely, one known as AlphaGo, which is focused (no surprise here) on the complexities of playing Go. (What looks, at first glance, as though it might be a simple-ish board game is actually incredibly intricate… so much so that it’s a huge part of some cultures, to the point of even being taught in schools, and is seen as the essence of, answer to, and metaphor for, life, itself.) Add a goofy, funny, really-good amateur player (with nerdy charm, aplenty). Finally, throw in an über-serious, reserved, professional player (with all his tics, plus a heavy case of nerves). Mix ‘em all together, let the amateur test AlphaGo’s mettle, then arrange a highly-publicized match in Seoul, Korea, between one of the top players in the world and the eerily-adept AI, and watch it all unfold.
You might not think there’d be drama. (There is.) Or humor. (There’s some of that, too.) And oddity. (Okay, so you might have guessed that part.) The real surprise, though, is an overwhelming awareness of—and appreciation for—humanity, which permeates the whole film… for in AlphaGo, it is the human element which struggles mightily to learn as much about itself… as it does about the AI which humans have created. And it is that struggle which will someday, almost certainly, change everything.