The Death of Chess?

Nov 22, 2007, 12:00 AM 3,894 Reads 4 Comments Other

The Death of Chess?bergman.jpgI

In a recent article Dr. Ray Kurzweil, the inventor of optical character recognition used in flat bed scanners amongst other things, has suggested that once computers get better than humans at chess, we will lose interest in this venerable game. �Deep Fritz-like chess programs running on ordinary personal computers will routinely defeat all humans later in this decade. Then we'll really lose interest in chess.� This article was written after a match between world champion Vladimir Kramnik and Deep Fritz, programmed by Frans Morsch of Germany. The eight game match was tied 4-4. Gary Kasparov, who has the highest rating in the world, is currently playing Deep Junior. �Deep� in these names refers to the use of more than one processor in parallel. After 5 games at the time of writing the match is tied 2.5-2.5. There is only one game left and Kasparov will have black. It is likely that this match will be a tie or that the computer will win. If Deep Junior wins this match, should we lose interest in chess?
I think it is a strange attitude Dr. Kurzweil has here about the relation of computers and humans in chess. I have no doubt his prediction that desktop computers will regularly beat the best humans within a short amount of time is true. But why should this cause us to lose interest in the game of chess. The fact that Kasparov can beat me every time in a game of chess doesn't mean that I should lose interest in the game. The same applies to the situation between computers and humans. We don't lose interest in the 100 yard dash because an automobile can defeat the fastest humans every time. I think it is a tribute to the human mind that we have held out against computers this long. The only thing we might lose interest in is computer v human competitions. Human v human competition in chess will always be interesting regardless of how strong computers get.


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