Man v. Machine

If you’re a chess geek, or a wanna-be chess geek like me, I recommend the DVD Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine. It’s a documentary of the 1997 controversial rematch between world-champion grandmaster Garry Kasparov and IBM’s “Deep Blue” computer.

Kasparov handily defeated the supercomputer in 1996, but in ’97, Kasparov lost the match in six games. The controversy stemmed from the fact that the computer appeared to play more like a human than a machine — even making errors that wouldn’t be expected from a machine. IBM’s mysterious secrecy, denial of a rematch, and Kasparov’s bizarre mental breakdown under pressure turned what began as a friendly “experiment” into an intrigue-filled contest.

What’s amazing is that even if IBM didn’t cheat by secretly using human intervention, the fact remains that humans actually had to program the machine to play against Kasparov as an opponent. That is to say that we can’t even attempt to replicate the human mind without a human element to do the replicating. Logically, it seems impossible that we could create something smarter than ourselves. I’m no humanist, but I do believe that humans are the pinnacle of creation, made in the image of God. Not even humanity can improve upon that.