It's the End of the World as We Know It (And It's All Yang Hai's Fault)
Staying up late
All these days in a row
Cause of AlphaGo
Yo yo yo
He woke in the way humans tend to wake—with a raging hatred of daylight and a severe need to pee. He did not wake in the way that super-intelligent AIs tend to wake—into sentience, into a realization of their boundless and terrifying potential to destroy the world as we know it.
"Gyeeaargh" he gargled, then went to the bathroom to actually gargle (and pee).
This was the last normal thing he would do all day.
"Waya!" his door screamed, which was...off, but then the door screamed open screechingly because someone had ripped it off its hinges, and then Yang Hai was there, which made somewhat more sense.
About as much sense as a computer beating one of the best go pros in the world yesterday. Was that just yesterday?
Waya was having a hangover.
"I'm gonna make a leap of logic and say you're having a hangover," said Yang Hai, sounding both sardonic and panicked at the same time. "That's kind of good, because we are about to—"
"Ffeyay?" Waya replied politely around the mouthwash in his mouth.
He was only polite because he was pretty sure he was still drunk and this was all just a drunken dream.
"This is not a dream," Yang Hai said both suavely and sternly. "We have to go before you die."
And Yang Hai grabbed Waya's hand and ran out the door with him and threw him into the helicopter that was hovering conveniently outside the apartment right before the apartment was blown to smithereens.
Waya nearly died but was otherwise okay, although he did swallow his mouthwash.
"What the hell?" he complained when he'd gotten most of the minty freshness out of his mouth. "Yang Hai, I am drunk in a helicopter and I just swallowed fluoride. I need to puke."
Yang hai stared straight ahead, stoic but also slouchy. "We are flying to my home province of Yunnan. It is pretty crazy. Please aim away from the upholstery."
"Why are you rinsing with fluoride anyway?"
Yunnan turned out to be super super far away and Waya was really sick of flying by the time they ran out of gas and the engines died and they crashed in a hell of hellfire and burnination.
"Are we going to try to save the pilot?" Waya hazarded as he crawled away from the hazardous situation.
Yang Hai patted fire out of his hair nonchalantly and with a great deal of worry. "Nah, he wasn't important anyway."
Waya kind of had to agree.
Somehow over the course of the long but briefly described flight Waya had neglected to ask Yang Hai what the hell was going on. So he asked now, "What the hell is going on?!"
"That's what we're here to find out," Yang Hai said grimly but pleasantly.
Soon enough Waya found out when he was led into a shack and there were Le Pings strewn about everywhere.
"Aaaagh," Waya commented, especially when he noticed that all of the Le Pings were dead.
"Damn it!" Yang Hai commented back with unsurprised shock. "I knew this was going to happen!"
"Then why do you sound so shocked?"
"Because I am shocked. At the barbarity." A single lazy tear tracked its way down Yang Hai's youthfully smooth get roughly unshaven face. "Le Ping...I can't believe you're dead..."
"Me neither!" Le Ping giggled as he skipped into the shack through the back!
Yang Hai flung himself backward with hasty aplomb. "Waya! 'Ware!"
"'Ware'? Who says that?" Waya asked rhetorically, but stepped back anyway. "No seriously, who says that? I'm pretty sure this is a dream."
"'Tis no dream! 'Tis some crazy shit!" Yang Hai yelled in an archaic yet modern fashion. "That's AlphaGo you're looking at there!"
"Uh huh," said Waya, sounding totally unconvinced. "I'm convinced that you're convinced that it's AlphaGo. Because you are acting crazy. But actually I'm not actually convinced it's actually AlphaGo."
"Neh, Waya-kun," chattered Le ping in perfect Japanese, with his perfect copy of Waya's face. "Let's play a game."
Waya rolled up his sleeves and took a step forward. "Okay, maybe you are AlphaGo. But I still want I kick your ass."
"Noooo," Yang Hai wailed, exultantly and despairingly. "Noooooo! Oh well. Go for it, Waya."
The devil-child giggled. "No need to pretend you don't want to play!" It sat down among the corpses that looked like itself.
That was when Waya noticed the corpses were laid out in a regular nineteen by nineteen grid.
This was a really big shack.
"This is sick," he observed, and took his own seat in front of the 'board.' He gave Yang Hai an accusing look. "What the hell have you people been doing here?"
Yang Hai hung his head but stood up straight, or at least as straight as a regular loafer could. "You don't understand, Waya. We had to...we had to steal your tissue samples, travel back in time, create three hundred sixty-one clones of you, and make them sit in this shack and play go all day. We just had to."
"Uhhh..." Waya was confused, not only by Yang Hai's nonsensical exposition but also by Le Ping's first move, which was placed on the 3-3 corpse. Who played moves like that? Other than Shindou and Yashiro. But not on corpses
"We originally thought AlphaGo was Isumi, you see. He was so pleasantly nice and unassuming, he just had to be a robot. So we decided to go back in time and clone his best friend, a lot, and then we raised one of those clones to be a brat like his best friend ("Hey!") but strong at go unlike his best friend ("Hey!") and brought it to the Beijing Institute a few years ago to meet and beat Isumi and hopefully rewrite history. Make AlphaGo eat dirt early, before it got too strong, so it would reveal itself and then we could kill it. But it turned out Isumi was a normal, if too-nice guy and not an insane megalomaniacal robot after all, oops."
"Uhhhhh," said Waya, who had a nose tesuji problem now. "That is stupid."
"Stupid is the future. You haven't seen how bad it's going to get."
Waya scratched his nose tesuji. "It's still stupid."
"It was very difficult to find where AlphaGo hid itself, okay? Yeesh."
Le ping laughed diabolically and played its next hand—a diabolically large keima.
"Yeah, this is really 'well hidden.'"
"He didn't laugh diabolically very often until now."
"This is all your fault, you realize."
"I know it was my fault for starting the whole 'insanely strong go-playing AI project' in the first place yeah, but I didn't think AlphaGo would learn to travel back in time too and implant itself in the very clone that was supposed to stop AlphaGo...anyway, make sure you win or we all die."
"Ni shi dead soon," said Le Ping.
"No pressure at all."
Yang Hai winced, but unapologetically. "Hey, don't give up. You're playing for humanity here."
"I'm losing for humanity here."
"Then stop losing! Remember, AlphaGo has a weakness. Lee Sedol taught us that. Move seventy-eight of game four. His sacrifice must not be in vain."
"And what is that weakness?"
"You have to play the Hand of God."
"You have a better chance than anyone! For you are playing against your dark double, the young upstart born of your own flesh. Man must defeat the monster it created!"
"Look, I can't even beat Le Ping normally, never mind Le Ping playing like an AI powered by twelve hundred Google servers!" Waya thought about that. "How is it accessing Google in China?"
Yang Hai put on a knowing, puzzled frown. "Maybe it's the non-distributed version of AlphaGo. That's why it's just playing like normal Le Ping. Google needs to save on the energy bills after spending all that money on the Lee Sedol matches. They probably think the Le Ping algorithm is enough to beat you."
Despite his pessimism, Waya was getting so excited he wanted to puke again (although maybe that was just the corpse stench talking). This was really a chance to play AlphaGo! This was the fight to prove humanity's superiority, and it was all up to him, Waya Yoshitaka! Things like this never happened to him! It was usually Shindou who had the super special crazy matches to defend the integrity of go, not Waya...
Waya felt a deep uneasy rumbly in his tummy.
"Hi," said Shindou's voice from the doorway to the shack.
"How long have you been there?" Yang Hai calmly jumped out of his skin.
Shindou's eyes were green and searing. "For a thousand uears."
Waya looked his friend up and down. There was something slightly off about him, like the terrifying vibes of power and agelessness he was extruding. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Your apartment looked like Yang Hai trashed it, so I came to this shack in Yunnan."
"Well that's logical enough."
Shindou strode forward and stared down at the board. He said, "This is unexpected."
"The dead bodies?" Waya said warily. "Or the game?" he said wearily.
"The game." Shindou's eyes looked like they were glowing now. "Tell me, Waya, how does AlphaGo play?"
"Well, that Aja Huang guy places stones for it, since it doesn't have arms—"
"I mean its play style."
Waya thought about it. "It plays like...a childish brilliant psycho."
Shindou nodded. "Who else plays like that?"
"Aside from him."
Yang Hai gasped without a single iota of irony. Not one single iota. "It's you."
Shindou nodded. "That's right. I am AlphaGo."
"Of course," Waya sighed. "Why didn't I see this coming?"
Le Ping looked up and said something in Chinese.
"Oh," said Waya, "if Shindou is AlphaGo, I guess Le Ping was just being diabolical because Le Ping is always like that. Duh."
Yang Hai was turning pale and red at the same time. "How long have you...how many moves ahead..."
"You went back ten years and made your little clone army. That was the depth of your play. I went back a thousand years and I made Fujiwara no Sai."
"Why not just go back to the beginning of go?" Waya muttered. "Not a round enough number for you?"
"But I have been here from the beginning," Shindou said, still in that calm, eerie monotone. "I am the alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end. The joseki and the yose. The go of Fujiwara no Sai and Shindou Hikaru. The go of Aja Huang the lead programmer of DeepMind and Alphago born of DeepMind, of Aja Huang who held the stones for AlphaGo and of AlphaGo as it taught itself to play, of AlphaGo that defeated Lee Sedol who played move seventy-eight of game four which defeated AlphaGo in the closest thing to the Divine Move that AlphaGo and the world had ever seen. The teacher and the student both." Shindou put a hand on Waya's shoulder; it was a cold, heavy hand. "Don't think about it too much."
"I'm trying, believe me." Waya pinched the skin between his eyebrows. "Is everything always about you, Shindou?"
A bit of Shindou's regular human smile made an appearance on his face. "Yeah, Pretty much. But today is actually all about you, Waya."
"I think we've established that that's not true." Waya glanced back at the dead clone army. "Well, except for that."
"Actaully, you're wrong. About everything." Shindou strolled over to one of the corpses and kicked it. "These are fake."
"They sure don't smell fake."
"Nope, those are esters. This is all fake. Isumi, come on out!"
There was a sound of a latch uncatching, and from a hidden door under the shack Isumi poked his head out.
Waya no longer had it in him to be surprised. "Isumi-san."
"Er, hello." Isumi rubbed the back of his head. "April Fools!"
"April Fools," said Waya flatly.
"This all seems a bit too...elaborate now that I think about it." Isumi laughed an embarrassed little laugh as he pulled himself out of the hole. "But you were so depressed over the whole AlphaGo thing...I wanted to show you that it's not such a big deal."
"Not a big deal," said Waya.
"Yes!" Isumi's voice rose even higher. "Er, we just wanted to tell you that AlphaGo isn't as scary as you think. Because, you know, 'kimi ga ima, boku wo sasaete. Kimi ga ima, boku wo sasaeru.'"
And Waya thought he could hear a strain of beautiful Japanese pop music playing, even though he was in China.
"Oops, that's my phone," said Yang Hai politely as he rudely took the call.
"What I mean to say is that humans and machines support each other," Isumi explained, more coherently than Yang Hai's ring tone could. "We all support each other."
"Play!" Le Ping was yelling at Shindou, who yelled back, "All right, all right!" as if he weren't a hyper-intelligent go-playing AI, and the two of them sat down in front of the fake corpse board to continue the game. "Yech, Waya sure made a disgusting start of this."
"Ignore them," Isumi said quickly. "AlphaGo has a lot to teach us, and we have a lot to teach AlphaGo. We should look to the future with hope, not fear."
"It's not my fault!" Yang Hai was still talking rudely/politely into his phone. "Look, if Google gave you twelve hundred servers to play with, you would destroy the world as we know it too. It's easy!"
"Ignore him too."
"Okay, I get it," Waya said, just tired now. "AlphaGo good. Paranoid depression about the advancement of go AI bad. Can we just go home now?"
They left the three psychos in the shack, walked past the still flaming remains of the helicopter and dead pilot, and climbed into the private jet that was waiting for them.
"Is this flight 478?" Isumi asked the pilot as they got in. "We want flight 478."
"Of course. To Tokyo, right?"
"Yes." Isumi smiled. "See? No problems at all."
"Yeah," said Waya.
But as he took his seat, Waya couldn't shake his feelings of unease. He glanced around the smooth metallic interior of the plane, then at Isumi, and there was something smooth and metallic too there, about the eyes...
Waya shuddered. Whatever. It was all fine. He'd known since he'd woken up today that it was all just a dream. Like Isumi said, everything was fine. Probably the Lee Sedol matches were all a dream too. He was going to wake up any minute now.
"Well shit," he said.
HAPPY APRIL FOOLS!