"The machine had gotten inside the human’s head."

20 years ago, Deep Blue beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov

#History

Wed, May 24th, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On BackChannel, Steven Levy looks at the "indelible dot on all timelines of AI progress" when on February 1997, IBM's Deep Blue would defeat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov. Levy argues that the historical moment was really not about a game of chess played by a computer but, ultimately, what he morbidly referred to as "the brain's last stand".

The turning point of the match came in Game Two. Kasparov had won the first game and was feeling pretty good. In the second, the match was close and hard fought. But on the 36th move, the computer did something that shook Kasparov to his bones. In a situation where virtually every top-level chess program would have attacked Kasparov’s exposed queen, Deep Blue made a much subtler and ultimately more effective move that shattered Kasparov’s image of what a computer was capable of doing. It seemed to Kasparov—and frankly, to a lot of observers as well—that Deep Blue had suddenly stopped playing like a computer (by resisting the catnip of the queen attack) and instead adopted a strategy that only the wisest human master might attempt. By underplaying Deep Blue’s capabilities to Kasparov, IBM had tricked the human into underestimating it. A few days later, he described it this way: “Suddenly [Deep Blue] played like a god for one moment.” From that moment Kasparov had no idea what—or who—he was playing against. In what he described as “a fatalistic depression,” he played on, and wound up resigning the game.

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