Thursday 9 February 2023

Audible: Deep Thinking by Gary Kasparov - Chess

This has been on the wish list to read for a while and as my Audible listening habits have improved (nay become addictive) as of late I managed to sneak it in. It harkens back to the Gary Kasparov experience of Man v Computer in chess competitions that started in the 1980's. It eventually saw a specialist machine called Deep Blue defeat the then World Champion Gary Kasparov in a match of six chess games. A competition of grey matter versus silicon logic circuits (see below, the Audible listing a fascinating and revealing read): 

I certainly discovered some "new things" from it and I don't pretend to be any sort of real Chess aficionado, other than knowing the base rules. Fascinating motivational factors were at play for IBM then went from Chess Experiment (in a sort of partnership with Kasparov to understand teh Chess Problem) to an "out and out" campaign focus to "win at all costs" (as in secretly hiring Grand Masters on NDA agreement [allegedly] for prestige and correlated stock-price benefit. From my programming background I know my Min-Max and Alpha-Beta Pruning - but the constructed "Opening Book" strategy was new (and this is where the Grand Masters really helped Deep Blue) used at the start of the game to gain a strong "middle game" baseline (starting position) .. where the silicon computation attack of the ply (pushing the "horizon effect" as long away as possible) was computed in earnest .. the ne the computational threads of Deep Blue tries to reach out to the end game database. Fascinating that Deep Blue beat Kasparov and then was put out to rest, rather than lead an Artificial Intelligence revolution. Crazy to also think that now, Deep Blue [with all its dedicated Chess hardware] is no longer thought of as impressive Chess Machine, its capacity is now well passed and outplayed by algorithms running on general purpose computers and smart phones.

If anything I earned a greater sense of respect for Gary Kasparov and what he went through. I found it a revealing, frank and humbling read. 

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