In 1996 I narrowly defeated the supercomputer Deep Blue in a match. Then, in 1997, IBM redoubled its efforts -- and doubled Deep Blue's processing power -- and I lost the rematch in an event that made headlines around the world. The result was met with astonishment and grief by those who took it as a symbol of mankind's submission before the almighty computer. Others shrugged their shoulders, surprised that humans could still compete at all against the enormous calculating power that, by 1997, sat on just about every desk in the first world.
It was the specialists -- the chess players and the programmers and the artificial intelligence enthusiasts -- who had a more nuanced appreciation of the result.
Although we still require a strong measure of intuition and logic to play well, humans today are starting to play more like computers.
From The World in 2009:
Someone once accused Craig Venter of playing God.
His reply was, "We're not playing."
Over the past few years I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn't going -- so far as I can tell -- but it's changing. I'm not thinking the way I used to think.
When children start to play with real genes, evolution as we know it will change forever.
Like so much else in our technology-rich and innovation-poor modern world, chess computing has fallen prey to incrementalism and the demands of the market. Brute-force programs play the best chess, so why bother with anything else? Why waste time and money experimenting with new and innovative ideas when we already know what works? Such thinking should horrify anyone worthy of the name of scientist, but it seems, tragically, to be the norm. Our best minds have gone into financial engineering instead of real engineering, with catastrophic results for both sectors.
For at least one hundred years and probably much longer, modern societies have been built on the assumption that more rationality and more techne (and more capital) are precisely the solutions to the extremely serious problems that beset our world and our human societies. Yet the evidence that this is not the right solution can be found everywhere.
Greenspan and Waxman:
"In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working," Mr. Waxman said. "Absolutely, precisely," Mr. Greenspan replied.
If the children are being instructed in the pink plane, can we teach them to think in the blue plane and live in a pink-plane society?
The Chess Master and the Computer