The 1997 game of chess with Garry Kasparov that pushed artificial intelligence into the spotlight -by Ecork

In 1997, chess king Garry Kasparov was beaten with a computer (AFP)


With his hand firmly thrust into his cheek with his eyes fixed on the table, Garry Kasparov took one last bleak look at the chessboard before leaving the room: the chess king had been beaten with a computer.

May 11, 1997 was a turning point in the human-machine relationship, when the artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputer Deep Blue finally achieved what developers had been promising for decades.

Artificial intelligence expert Philippe Roulet told AFP it was an “incredible” moment, even if the ongoing technological impact isn’t huge.

“The victory of Deep Blue made people realize that machines can be as powerful as humans, even on their own land,” he said.

The developers at IBM, the American company that made Deep Blue, were euphoric about the victory but soon refocused on the broader importance.

“It’s not about human versus machine. It’s really about how we humans use technology to solve difficult problems,” Deep Blue team boss Chung Jin Tan said after the match, explaining the potential benefits from financial analysis for weather forecasting.

Even Chung would struggle to understand how AI is now central — finding applications in nearly every area of ​​human existence.

“Artificial intelligence has proliferated over the past 10 years or so,” Richard Corf, a professor of computer science at UCLA, told AFP.

“We are now doing things that were previously impossible.”

“cracked man”

After his defeat, Kasparov, still widely regarded as the greatest chess player of all time, was furious.

He alluded to the existence of unfair practices, denied that he actually lost, and concluded that nothing had ever been proven about the power of computers.

He explained that the match could be seen as “one man, the best player in the world, (who) collapsed under pressure”.

The computer is defeatable, he said, because it has too many vulnerabilities. Nowadays the best computers will always defeat even the strongest human chess players.

AI-powered machines have perfected every ongoing game and now have much larger worlds to conquer.

Korff cites the remarkable advances in facial recognition that have helped make self-driving cars a reality.

Yan Lecon, head of AI research at Meta/Facebook, told AFP that “absolutely amazing progress” has been made in recent years.

LeCun, one of the founding fathers of modern artificial intelligence, lists among the achievements of today’s computers the ability to “translate any language into any language in a set of 200 languages” or “having a single neural network that understands 100 languages”.

It’s a far cry from 1997, when Facebook didn’t even exist.

Machines are not the danger

Experts agree that Kasparov’s match was important as a symbol but left little in the way of his artistic legacy.

“There was nothing revolutionary about designing Deep Blue,” Corf said, describing it as an evolution of styles that had been around since the 1950s.

“It was also a custom piece of equipment designed just for playing chess.”

Facebook, Google, and other tech companies have pushed AI in all sorts of other directions.

They have fed increasingly powerful AI machines with unimaginable amounts of data from their users, ruthlessly serving targeted content and ads and visiting trillion-dollar companies in the process.

AI technology now helps determine anything from room temperature to the price of car insurance.

Devices from vacuum cleaners to doorbells come with arrays of sensors to feed data to AI systems to better target consumers.

While critics bemoan the loss of privacy, enthusiasts believe AI products are making everyone’s life easier.

Despite his painful history with machines, Kasparov is largely unfazed by the increasing dominance of artificial intelligence.

“There is simply no evidence that the machines threaten us,” he told AFP last year. “The real danger does not come from killer robots but from people – because people still have a monopoly on evil.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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