Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov has just published a beautiful short essay in the journal Science in which he reviews a new game-playing algorithm called AlphaZero, a chess program that programs itself! Below the fold is an extended excerpt from his excellent essay:
Programs usually reflect priorities and prejudices of programmers, but because AlphaZero programs itself, I would say that its style reflects the truth. This superior understanding allowed it to outclass the world’s top traditional program [Stockfish] despite calculating far fewer positions per second. It’s the embodiment of the cliché, “work smarter, not harder.”
AlphaZero shows us that machines can be the experts, not merely expert tools. Explainability is still an issue—it’s not going to put chess coaches out of business just yet. But the knowledge it generates is information we can all learn from. Alpha-Zero is surpassing us in a profound and useful way, a model that may be duplicated on any other task or field where virtual knowledge can be generated.