Review: AlphaGo (2017)

Usually I opt for movies because I enjoy the escapism that comes with them, however over the last couple of weeks, Mark and I have been embracing the realism and diversity of documentaries. When I told Mark I wanted to re-watch AlphaGo so that I could write a post on it, he was super excited; last year he watched this documentary four times in three days!!

Poster for the 2017 documentary 'AlphaGo'

The ancient Chinese game of ‘Go’ has more board configurations than atoms in the observable universe and has long been considered a great challenge for artificial intelligence. This documentary follows the London based ‘AlphaGo’ team as they develop their programme and embark on a true David and Goliath journey, pitting their AI system against a legend in the world of Go, 18-time World Champion, Lee Sedol.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the outcome of the match, you’ll just have to watch it yourself (or Google it 🙂 ) but I will tell you that this documentary is surprisingly suspenseful and gripping, it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Still from the 2017 documentary 'AlphaGo'.

Unlike a lot of documentaries, AlphaGo is not preachy in any way and does not lean too heavily on one side or the other. It manages to perfectly balance the technological implications of artificial intelligence with the resilience of the human spirit.

There are none of the stereotypical tropes that are usually abundant in films involving artificial intelligence, however it still manages to evoke an element of the same fear, and you do experience a small fluttering of that instinctive yet very human need to survive. However, this simple computer programme also teaches us lessons about humility, empathy and compassion.

Still from the 2017 documentary 'AlphaGo'.

AlphaGo is currently available to view on Netflix. You guys should definitely check it out and let me know your thoughts.

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