AIs, humans and chess

Garry Kasparov’s Deep Thinking is a compelling read. Timed for the 20th anniversary (last year) of his famous defeat by the chess computer Deep Blue, it’s a combination of the tale of his engagements with computers through the course of his chess career (including his view about IBM’s bad behaviour in the famous contest) with reflections on computers and human intelligence. Chess is of course a great lens for these reflections, being in many ways emblematic of intellectual skills.

Kasparov convincingly portrays himself as an optimist about technology, including AI. He sees it as an other tool used by humans, albeit one we haven’t yet figured out to use. He points out also that when some application becomes very familiar, we stop calling it AI and start calling it, oh, Siri. After all, we don’t call our fancy new washing machine a robot, but it is. Anyway, although not a chess afficionado, I enjoyed reading the book and agree with its call for some deep thinking about how to use these amazing, human-invented, new technologies.

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