Margin of victory

2020-04-24 1 min read

    During the AlphaGo documentary there’s a scene where the AI makes a very conservative move that the commentary notes is very different from what a human would do. The explanation is that AlphaGo doesn’t care about the margin of victory, just the victory itself. It’s trying to maximize the likelihood of winning, not the score differential - and that leads to a unique playing style.

    I found this part of the documentary fascinating as it’s one of those things that’s obvious when explained but you’d never stop to think about. Humans rarely think about margin of victory. Most of our decisions and competitions aren’t quantifiable so we always try to do the best we can. In sports, on the other hand, where there are actual scores, teams will play for the victory rather than the score. It’s interesting to think of decisions in our daily lives that would benefit from shifting from margin-of-victory thinking to the victory itself. It’s not natural and being able to challenge human nature is a valuable skill.