Five Questions for Filmmakers: AlphaGo
AlphaGo Trailer from Jackson Hole WILD on Vimeo.
Answers provided by Director Greg Kohs.
What inspired this story?
GK: Experts predicted that a Go program that could compete with a top professional was at least a decade away. If DeepMind's AlphaGo was able to beat a player of Lee Sedol's stature, it would be a historical achievement with drama and intrigue.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film?
GK: Early in my career I worked at NFL Films. That experience, of being able to see the drama on the field while having access to the people and stories unfolding off the field, has always been a fascinating intersection for me. In my recent film, The Great Alone, I was able to explore the epic scale of the Iditarod through the comeback story of a single competitor. In AlphaGo, the competition between man and machine provided a similar backdrop, albeit with far larger consequences.
How do you approach science storytelling?
GK: The complexity of the game of Go, combined with the technical depth of an emerging technology like artificial intelligence seemed like it might create an insurmountable barrier for a film like this. The fact that I was so innocently unaware of Go and AlphaGo actually proved to be beneficial. It allowed me to approach the action and interviews with pure curiosity, the kind that helps make any subject matter emotionally accessible.
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As the curators of the Science Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH), we believe storytelling is a common thread in our shared human experience, and that new media allows us to convey the wonders of scientific discovery in new and compelling ways.