“Alphago Shock” and AI’s Effect on Korean Society

Friday, January 5, 2018: 3:50 PM
Roosevelt Room 4 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Mi-seon Maeng, Seoul National University
In March 2016, the Korean society faced the so-called “AlphaGo shock” after the

big match between professional Go player Se-dol Lee and the AI go [baduk]

program designed by Google DeepMind, AlphaGo. The objective of this research

is to study the social impact of AlphaGo by focusing on buzzwords such as

"AlphaGo shock" and "the Fourth Industrial Revolution", and the rhetoric of

people who use these terms. The victory of AlphaGo, in an area long considered

the unconquerable sanctum of human supremacy, sparked huge and

unprecedented interest in AI technology. While it is unsurprising that advanced

information technology such as AI garnered such spotlight as the epitome of

technological cutting-edge, this event is notable in that it marks the first occasion

the whole of Korean society bore witness to the power of AI technology through

the ‘human vs. machine’ "match of the century", leading to a popular boom

regarding AI. In particular, the impact of AlphaGo-related discussion was

furthered by its association with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a concept

proposed at the World Economic Forum just before the Google DeepMind

Chellenge match.

I analyze how the expectations of experts and the media differ between before

and after the match, and how this accomplishment of AI technology is utilized in

discussions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, through various investigations

into media coverage. I argue that the ambiguity of the two buzzwords creates a

strategic misunderstanding among the actors, which is utilized to expand and

support ongoing discussions on AI and the "AI technology society”.