Content Cure — Of Alpha Go, Crawdads and Hope
It has been a strange and uncertain few months, so forgive me for not sticking to my posts. But given we need content cures more than ever, to survive and thrive, hoping to get back on my regular schedule.
Alpha Go (Documentary, Youtube)
Go is a boardgame that originated in China over 3000 years ago, and is quite popular in East Asia.“There are an astonishing 10 to the power of 170 possible board configurations — more than the number of atoms in the known universe. This makes the game of Go a googol times more complex than chess”¹. In 2015, Deepmind created Alpha Go — an AI program who played Go. And in 2016, Alpha Go defeated Lee Sedol, the winner of 18 world titles, who is considered the greatest Go player of the past decade. This match is considered a historic landmark in the development of AI.
When geeky stuff is made to look cool, there is a special part of my brain and heart which gets activated. So while watching this, the geek in me was giving virtual fist pumps to the Deepmind team. And equally, the humanist in me was feeling fear at what the future would hold, making me root for Lee Sedol. The win of Alpha Go was both a human triumph and loss, and watching the movie left me with a bittersweet taste. Usually it is the adrenaline-heavy sports which create nail-biting moments for viewers, but this movie managed to beautifully evoke such emotions with a board game.
Go watch it if you are a geek, if you love Tech and believe AI is the future of things, if you are a humanist scared of humans becoming redundant, if you like boardgames or chess, if you like coding, if you like watching exciting sports matches. Go watch it if you want a glimpse of the future, and discuss the various ways in which AI can transform our lives! Also, if you manage to learn Go, ping me — I want to learn too.
Where the Crawdads sing by Delia Owens (Fiction)
This book is about the life of Kya, a young girl who grew up isolated in the marsh of North Carolina from 1952–1969. If you are feeling “isolated” in the current lockdown environment, perhaps a good read to understand the true meaning of isolation. The book elegantly flows around two timelines — of Kya’s strange childhood, and a murder case of a local boy.
Known as “The Marsh Girl” by the locals, Kya navigates life on her own, teaches herself how to fish and forage for food, and barter to earn money for other necessities. She forms friendships, gets her heart broken, and realizes how fickle humankind is relative to nature. The imagery used in Owens’pi writing will make you imagine what life in a marsh would be like, the beauty of being hugged by nature and the loneliness of being shunned by humans. The murder trial adds extra pizzazz to the plot, and I found myself cheering “Go Kya” throughout the book.
Go read this if you root for one of the underdog sports teams, if you like good coming-of-age literature, if you think surviving and thriving is getting hard with social distancing, and if you want to feel the cool breeze, smell the open sea and taste the salty air while sitting in your living rooms.
Knock Down the House (Documentary, Netflix)
Hope is a good thing. Hope is powerful. Hope is what drives us ahead and keeps us from being left behind. Hope is insurgency over incumbency. Hope is revolution. Hope is left over right, and when needed, right over left. Hope is minority rights and equality. Hope is peace, or hope is the hope of peace. Hope is harmony. Hope is justice. Hope is the underdog.
Hope is seeing a young bartender in the Bronx, a grieving mother in Nevada, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, and a nurse in Missouri build a political movement to challenge powerful incumbents in Congress. ‘Knock down the house’, a Netflix documentary, and an Academy Award nominee, does just that — brings you hope in these troubling times. Not just working class hope, but also a hope for gender equality.
Go watch it if you are losing hope, if you have ever been the underdog, if you have felt the odds stacked up against you, if you want some renewed enthusiasm to fight, and to be hopeful. As the US 2020 elections come up, it is more timely than ever to watch this one, and HOPE!