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Mastering the Game of Go with Deep Neural Networks and Tree Search

Today we published our paper on beating the human state of the art in Gocache, the only major board game where humans (or at least top professionals) could still beat computers. No more. Our program AlphaGo achieved a 99% winning rate against the strongest existing Go programs, and defeated the human European champion by 5 games to 0.

(That's me playing at 0:10)

The first major breakthrough in computer Go - after remaining at weak amateur level for decades - came with the advent of Monte Carlo Tree Searchcache (MCTS) around 2007, massively improving playing strength. Still, Go programs remained much weaker than strong human players and started to plateau again fairly soon - Crazy Stone's feat of defeating a professional player with 4 (!) handicap stones in 2013 remained unsurpassed since 2013.

There are many reasons Go is difficult for computers - a huge state space (10^171 vs ...


Nutrition Information

Recently, I ran across a very useful website: Examine.comcache. They collect and summarize studies about many common nutrients and supplements. If you were wondering whether to take Vitamin D or what to think about creatine, this is the website to check.


A Book of Life

Inspired by Kaue's book about lifecache, I've decided to collect my experiences and the various lessons I've learned in one place and write down generally applicable advice.

Without further ado, the Book of Life.

Why post it on this blog instead of using Google Docs or something similar?

  • Full control of the platform. This is intended to be around as long as I'm alive.
  • No problems with link rot. Thanks to the Pelican plugin I built, a copy of every page I link to is automatically saved to my blog so it can be viewed when the original is not available anymore.
  • Indexed by Google Search. As this is also a collection of notes I might want to refer to in the future, having it easily searchable is great. (Yes, Docs has search, but not as powerful as normal web search).

There is the downside ...


Tidy your Life

I just finished Marie Kondo's The Life-changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forevercache, but even before I was halfway through I couldn't stop myself from reorganizing half my room and finally disposing of many clothes I hadn't even looked at in two years.

I had always considered that I could just let things sit at the back of a shelf until the next time I moved flat and then I'd finally get rid of them, but while tidying yesterday I realized that I actually had many nice clothes I'd wanted to wear that I simply had forgotten about because they were obscured by all the obsolete ones.

Think of it in terms of software engineering: you want to refactor old code and clean up your codebase, otherwise you accumulate lots of technical debt. It's similar in your house ...


Cardboard Photography

Google just recently introduced Cardboard Cameracache. If you haven't tried it, do, it's amazing. It's the closest I've seen to transporting somewhere back in time to wherever you took the picture. I've used it with friends, parents, even grandparents, and always it is equally amazing to see the delight on their faces when they realise that they can see exactly what I saw when I was there; they can truly feel like they are part of the scene.

While the Cardboard Camera app includes a few sample images, it can often be difficult to get a sense of whether you'll be able to take such high quality images yourself. To that end, here's two pictures I've taken myself with minimal experience, and on the first try:

Desert Panorama

Courtyard Garden

To view these in Cardboard, first install the Cardboard Camera app, then save the photos ...


Scarcely Credible Stupidity

I just finished another book in the excellent Culture series. It contains this little gem of a speech given by a member of the Culture (a utopian society with very advanced technology, best described by the phrase money is a sign of poverty) on the topic of planet Earth:

'Now, on Earth things are not quite the same. On Earth one of the things that a large proportion of the locals is most proud of is this wonderful economic system which, with a sureness and certainty so comprehensive one could almost imagine the process bears some relation to their limited and limiting notions of either thermodynamics or God, all food, comfort, energy, shelter, space, fuel and sustenance gravitates naturally and easily away from those who need it most and towards those who need it least. Indeed, those on the receiving end of such largesse are often harmed unto death by ...


Computing Machinery and Intelligence

I was just reading Quantum Computing since Democrituscache (an excellent book!), when it referred me to Turing's Computing Machinery and Intelligencecache.

This argument is very, well expressed in Professor Jefferson's Lister Oration for 1949, from which I quote. "Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain-that is, not only write it but know that it had written it. No mechanism could feel (and not merely artificially signal, an easy contrivance) pleasure at its successes, grief when its valves fuse, be warmed by flattery, be made miserable by its mistakes, be charmed by sex, be angry or depressed when it cannot get what it wants." ...

It is impressive how even 65 years ago he already captured all the common arguments why computers ...


Iterative Deepening for Talks

When you give a talk, assume your audience knows nothing.

Start with a one minute summary, then go back to the beginning and give the 5 minute version of your talk. Showing an index slide for your talk does not count, those are a joke.

Only now can you give the full version of the talk since now the audience will have all relevant context in the L2 cache of their brain.


Surveillance against Social Change

From illegal to socially accepted:

  1. illegal and immoral
  2. still illegal, but more and more people start doing it
  3. start of decriminalization, grey area
  4. fully legal and accepted by society
  5. the obvious right thing to do

As exemplified by gay rights or marijuana legalization, at various stages of this process.

Broad government surveillance stifles this process by preventing the change from step 1 to 2 and thus hinders social progress.

Freely paraphrased after Bruce Schneier at Defcon 23. Wisdom is due to Bruce, mistakes are mine.


Working Out is like Investing

When investing, you are rewarded for taking risk by an increased rate of return.
When working out, you are rewarded for pushing to your limits and enduring the pain by increased muscle growth and strength.

Only risk that can't be diversified away results in a higher return.
Only pain that can't be avoided by warming up and stretching results in muscle growth.

Invest smart, diversify into low-fee index trackers.
Train smart, warm up and stretch after you are done.

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