[Computer-go] Computer Go and EGC 2012

Don Dailey dailey.don at gmail.com
Thu Jan 19 09:50:14 PST 2012

On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM, Nick Wedd <nick at maproom.co.uk> wrote:

> On 19/01/2012 16:23, Don Dailey wrote:
>> On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 10:27 AM, John Tromp <john.tromp at gmail.com
>> <mailto:john.tromp at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>    On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 9:59 AM, "Ingo Althöfer"
>>    <3-Hirn-Verlag at gmx.de <mailto:3-Hirn-Verlag at gmx.de>> wrote:
>>     > What I mean is the following:
>>     > The human player (in 19x19) determines how many handicap stones
>>    he gives
>>     > to the bot (either 2 or 3 or 4 or 5).
>>     >
>>     > When he selects a difficult task (=giving high handicap) he gets
>> high
>>     > reward in case of a win. When he selects a more easy task (=
>>    giving low
>>     > handicap) he gets only small reward in case of success. So, the list
>>     > from the original posting (300 Euro bonus in case of a win at 5
>>    handicap
>>     > stones) is what I mean.
>>     >
>>     > By giving him this choice under the reward system, I want to learn
>>     > what this special person thinks about his/her chances.
>>    Considering that the smallest handicap at which computers have
>>    beaten pros
>>    is 5 or 6, few pros would want the embarrassment of choosing less.
>>    Being the first pro to lose a 4 handicap game is not a particularly
>>    attractive prospect:-(
>>    I expect they will blindly go with the 6 handicap option, mostly due
>>    to professional pride,
>>    but also because of the higher reward and  because there is less
>>    embarrassment
>>    (even if a higher chance of) losing at the higher handicap.
>> Of course this can be influenced by the incentive,  right?     I think
>> if a pro were offered a million dollars to beat the computer with a
>> handicap that only gives him a 10% chance of winning he would take it
>> over a sure win that only returned $50.
>> The expectation of winning for each stone handicap should be computed
>> and the incentive for the human should be chosen to make it more
>> attractive to play the higher handicap matches.      This should be
>> clearly explained to the pro before proceeding so that he understands
>> that the higher stone handicap is a better bargain but the lower
>> handicap is a more certain payoff.
>> Unfortunately I think you point still holds unless the pro thinks like a
>> scientist or mathematician.    There is a factor called "risk aversion"
>> which is a psychological concept and is different for each person.
>> It says that people tend to reject a clear bargain if it has a less
>> certain likelihood of payoff.     In this case their investment is not
>> monetary but in the form of embarrassment and pain,  thus they are
>> likely to be extremely "risk averse" as you intuit here.
>> But I have a solution that should change the players
>> thinking significantly and cause him to make a slightly better decision.
>>    The first step of course is to make it a bargain to play higher
>> handicap matches.       The SECOND stage of the solution is to offer him
>> different incentives for losing.      You can make this a "game"  in
>> which his risk aversiveness (is that word?)  is a minor factor if he
>> always comes away with something.      He should get more money for
>> losing a high handicap match but still not enough that it is better to
>> lose a high handicap match than win a low handicap match.
>> Here is an example which may say something about your own risk
>> averseness for anyone who has not heard of this concept.     You could
>> also add an additional zero the monetary amounts in this example to see
>> if you would change as this increases the risk:
>> Which would you pay $10 for - if given only these 2 choices?  :
>>    1.   1 out 2 chance of getting $100.00
>>    2.   1 out of 2000 chance of getting $100,000
>> Both would be a bargain,  because each are worth exactly $50 and you are
>> asked only to pay $10.     Some people are so risk averse they would not
>> pay $10  for a 50/50 chance of winning $100.00  simply because they fear
>> losing $10.    However most people would immediately see this a bargain
>> or opportunity.
>> If you choose option 1 you have an excellent chance (50/50)  of going
>> home $90 richer.   If you choose option 2 you will almost certainly go
>> home $10 poorer, but if you win you win really big.     Many people
>> don't like the idea of taking a chance and losing $10 (this depends of
>> course on their personality and their income) and are likely to choose
>> option 1.      Many would see option 2 as stupidity, a way to give away
>> $10 even though it's actually a bargain.
>> The fact is however that both these options have equal value, an
>> expectancy of $50.     In other words if you played this game every day
>> of your life you could expect to average about $40 per day  on average
>> to have a $40 a day extra income on average or about 1 million dollars
>> over a 70 year lifetime.     The second option is more granular and you
>> might end up with substantially more than 1 million dollars or
>> substantially less than 1 million after your 70 years.      Which would
>> you choose if you had to play this game every day?    Would you go for
>> the very steady stream of income or the big 100,000 payday which you
>> might only see a few times in your lifetime?    The second choice gives
>> you a chance to do much better but risks doing much worse over a lifetime.
> You write of risk aversion as something "psychological" and irrational.
>  But, if the sums involved are comparable to one's total disposable wealth,
> it is perfectly rational.  A rational person tries to maximise, not
> expected wealth, but the expected value of his utility function for wealth.
> Admittedly, many people get these sums wrong, because they they are bad at
> sums, or don't know how to do them, or for "psychological" reasons. But
> professional Go players are brighter than that.

I don't disagree with any of this.   I probably made it seem irrational by
my description and to be sure humans usually are quite irrational when it
comes to these kinds of tradeoffs,  but there is also an element of common
sense that is very important.     For example my home is payed for and if
someone offered me even an extremely high expectancy bet that involved my
home and everything I own which would likely put me out on the street,   I
would refuse it.    I didn't mean to imply that makes one stupid or

Also to be factored in ones view of money.  If I'm happy and I don't see
money as being tied in with my happiness,  then I might gladly accept a
million dollars given to me,  but the "real" value I place on it might be
significantly different than the value someone else placed on it.    I
might be content with what I have and losing it would be far more traumatic
than winning a million would be positive.

Computing risk aversion has another side too.   Most people really are
irrational when it comes to computing odds of things with very low
probability of happening.     When I was a teenager I was a very reckless
driver.   It was fun but I risked my life every day.     The odds that any
particular stunt would kill me were very small and thus did not register as
being very important,  but the combined odds of dong this every day and
surviving to tell this story were not very high.   In fact I had accidents
that could have killed me.      Example:  if you were destitute over
financial ruin and close to suicidal as a result of your crushing debt
burdens and losing your family over this and so on,   some people might
gladly play a game of "Russian Roulette" for a 5/6 chance for a million
dollars that would pay off all their debts and leave them something to
restart their life with.    If they were seriously considering suicide they
might see this as a bargain (what's the worst that could happen :-)

A highly greedy person might be willing to play Russian Roulette for a 5/6
chance to be wealthy and set up for life if being wealthy was so important
to them.     5/6 to them may seem like pretty good odds because they are
way out of balance with respect to having wealth.      After winning this
game once they might start feeling "lucky" and want to play again.    They
might reason,  just one more time and I'll quit ...         Gamblers are
the classic example,  no matter how much they get ahead (in those rare
times they get ahead) they will quickly find a way to lose it all ....

> Nick
> --
> Nick Wedd
> nick at maproom.co.uk
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