Checkmate: Artificial Intelligence’s Game Playing Challenge

How Computer Chess Changed the World?…


It’s been a while since I enrolled myself for Udacity’s Nanodegree on Artificial Intelligence (which I truly rate above all the online learning experiences I have had). Amidst studying about ‘game playing agents’ during the coursework, one of the assignments was to summarize a research paper, for which I read about a one of the most seminal breakthroughs in the history of Artificial Intelligence, Deep Blue.

Deep Blue was a chess-playing computer developed by IBM. It is known for being the first computing machine to have won a chess match against a reigning world champion under regular time controls.

When IBM’s Deep Blue beat chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997 in a six game chess match, Kasparov came to believe that he was facing a machine that could experience human intuition.

“The machine refused to move to a position that had a decisive short-term advantage… It was showing a very human sense of danger.” – Garry Kasparov

To Kasparov, Deep Blue looked as if to be experiencing the game rather than just crunching the numbers. Might Kasparov have actually detected a hint of analogical thinking in Deep Blue’s play and mistaken it for human intervention?

“Chess is beautiful enough to waste your life for” – Hans Rees, Dutch Grandmaster.

The oft-quoted adage of Hans Rees most succinctly describes the human obsession with the ancient game of kings. For centuries, the act of playing chess has been upheld as the very paragon of intellectual activity. It is the game’s reputation as both a strategically deep system and as a thinking man’s activity that originally made the idea of mechanized chess player and intriguing notion. For much of modern history, chess playing was seen as a “litmus test” of the ability for computers to act intelligently.


Book Review: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

The theory of creation summarized…


Scientists may not be as sexy as they were in the early 20th century. In an era where the world is waffling in its commitment to natural sciences, it is reassuring to hear Stephen Hawking defend this esoteric field for its own sake. As the title implies, ‘A Brief History of Time’ is a succinct review of this challenging task, providing the reader with a jaunty summary of key cosmological ideas including multidimensional space, the inflationary universe, and the cosmic fates that explain the construction and potential destruction of the universe. He discusses two major theories, relativity and quantum physics, that modern scientists use to describe the universe. Finally, he talks about the search for a unifying theory that explains everything in the universe in a coherent manner.

Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ is an attempt to clarify to laymen the laws of physics and their impact on the functioning of the universe. In the book, Hawking tries to explain dense and sophisticated theories in a way similar to a fire-side chat with a scientist, such that someone without an advanced physics degree can understand. For most of the part, he’s successful. Given the variety of subjects that the book touches, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone curious about physics or to someone looking for something challenging to read. It’s one of a very few books in this category that maintained a continued interest despite the fact that a lot of its contents stretch the reader further than is usually expected in a book of this sort. I must admit, there were more than a few times when I was a little lost and unable to follow the thread of what Hawking was explaining. I believe, this had more to do with the concepts that Hawking brings up instead of a problem with his actual writing. In every chapter, came a point where my brain could not hold on to another permutation of a theory. Of all the books I’ve read in my life, this has to have the highest educational value per page.