[Computer-go] 50k-100k patterns

Mark Boon tesujisoftware at gmail.com
Thu Aug 9 18:38:45 PDT 2012


It's hard to find people at age 20 or 30 to start to devote their life
to something new. But it does happen on occasion. About 10 years ago
there was someone like that at the Amsterdam Go Club. Strong chess
player. Well over 30, unemployed I believe, who spent day and night
studying Go and playing online. At the time I told him the same I have
been saying here. But he didn't believe me. I think some 2 years later
he was 1-dan, which was already very promising. But I think becoming
2-dan then took another two years. I don't know what happened after
that, but I believe he got stuck at 2 or 3 dan.

Occasionally the Nihon Ki-in or the Kansai Ki-in take in someone over
30 to become professional. These are people who already spent
something like 10-20 years full time on Go. Yet I can't think of a
single one that made it through the competition to become
professional. At the very best they get a diploma as 'teaching
professional'. But they're not allowed to enter the professional
competitions. Of the people that enter the professional schools at age
20 or later, I believe Catalin Taranu got the furthest to 5-dan pro.
And these are people who started playing Go in their early teens.

That in itself doesn't prove the brain doesn't get altered when you
learn something of course. I just believe it might happen still on a
much smaller scale than when you're young. There's this study by Dr.
Haier who found that playing Tetris led to a thicker cortex with
adolescent girls: http://www.tetris.com/press/brain-health.aspx At the
time I think there were plans for a similar study on adults, but I
haven't heard from it since. But he may actually be working on it,
studies like these take a while to complete when done properly.

With my own kids I noticed they have extreme difficulty learning
abstract concepts at the age of 5. They find it hard to learn Tetris
for example. Yet at that age they have no problem playing Lego
Universe (World of Warcraft for kids) and finishing complex missions.
When I observe them I notice they learn how to do it through endless
trying, remembering exactly what worked and what not. That's also how
they operate games on their iPod. Before being able to read, they
simply figure it out by remembering what buttons to press in what
screen.

Anyway, to come back to the original article, I do believe learning
changes the brain. But I don't believe there's a sudden fundamental
change when a person reaches a certain high level. At best this
happens to coincide with fundamental changes to the brain that would
happen regardless at a certain age.

Fascinating subject :)

Mark


On Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 2:39 PM, Darren Cook <darren at dcook.org> wrote:
>> when having learnt it at a later age. If it was just putting in time,
>> someone 20 years old should be able to get close to 9-dan by age 30.
>> But this has never happened. And I don't know of a single person who
>> started at age 30 or later who reached amateur 5-dan. It's even very
>> rare for someone starting at 20 to reach 5 dan.
>
> Great point. Part of me is going "surely there must be", and the other
> part is coming up blank.
>
> It would really be a fascinating experiment: find a few 30 year olds,
> who don't even know the rules, willing to dedicate the next 10 years of
> their life to learning a board game. Give them the best teachers; pack
> them off to Korean Insei school. They should be willing to have regular
> brain scans to see if anything changes in their brain chemistry over
> that period.
> (I suggest a "few" as some will drop out, and we also want to see how
> differences in personality and IQ affect the result.)
>
> Darren
>
> --
> Darren Cook, Software Researcher/Developer
>
> http://dcook.org/work/ (About me and my work)
> http://dcook.org/blogs.html (My blogs and articles)
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