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Chess: Man vs. Machine Debate Continues 295

Posted by Hemos
from the the-battle-rages-on dept.
Frederic Friedel sent in an interesting submission. It's an interview with the current world's chess champion, Vladimir Kramnik, in which they talk about the upcoming year in chess competitions, but also get into [Deep Blue] and where computer chess playing is versus several years ago, with a comparison between Deep Blue and Fritz. If you want more info, check out Chessbase for additional news.
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Chess: Man vs. Machine Debate Continues

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  • by saveth (416302)
    When do I get my turn at being the world's best chess player? :(
    • According to bobby fischer all the games are pre arranged anyway, so change your name to something that ends in "rov" and begins with K, and wait in line.
  • New Turing Tests (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KFury (19522) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:45PM (#3421298) Homepage
    Forget conversational ability. I'd like to see a Chess Turing Test, where grandmasters go up against an unknown opponent, and have to ascertain whether they're playing a computer or a machine.
    • Err, a computer or a human, that is... I didn't mean to disparage grandmasters...
    • by metalogic (445469)

      This doesn't make much sense.



      It's long been observed in AI circle that things that are seemingly difficult for human actually are quite easy for computer, and vice versa. E.g., it is relatively easy to write program to solve sophisticated equations, playing chess, etc, which usually are considered hard, and require long period of training for human to carry out adequately. Things that are easy for human, such as recognizing faces and doing common sense reasoning, are what present the most problem for AI researchers.



      Turing test allows opportunity to test for the latter, greater challenge; your suggested test doesn't.


      • Your post doesn't make sense to me.

        Language skills and chess skills are both things humans do well, and computers don't (because both are intractable problems, and humans are better at finding and using patterns.

        Therefore I fail to see why a test requiring a human to differentiate between human and computer conversationalists is different than a human differentiating between human and computer chess players.

        Explicate, please?
    • Re:New Turing Tests (Score:4, Interesting)

      by marcelk (224477) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:22PM (#3421426)
      > Forget conversational ability. I'd like to see a Chess Turing Test, where grandmasters go up against an unknown opponent, and have to ascertain whether they're playing a computer or a machine.

      Actually, the computers have already demonstrated greater skill in judging chess Turing tests: they are better than grandmaster at deciding if an unknown player is human or not.
    • Well it'd be pretty easy to see whether it's a computer or a person (I assume you didn't mean machine). Just knock your king over on your first move. A person woud see it and say "ha you resigned!" - a computer would just say "illegal move - try again"
      • This story has wildly variant versions and no one seems to agree on it, but it seems to be the case that Napoleon pursued this strategy when he faced the Turk (of Slashdot, and otherwise, fame):

        The version propounded by jrandi.org [randi.org] goes

        Maelzel held a special command demonstration of the Automaton for Napoleon in 1806 in Berlin -- a city which Napoleon was occupying for the moment. The general tried to upset the machine by performing illegal moves -- for which the protocol laws well-prepared, since the understanding was that the figure would nod three times if such a thing were to happen, and when Napoleon persisted in making the wrong moves again and again, the Automaton finally swept all the pieces to the floor, and the game was over. Later, when the general was behaving himself and obeying the rules, he lost his game -- and was reportedly not happy.

        Another version, provided by the Sunday Times [btimes.co.za] goes

        Napoleon placed a magnet on the chess board before the second game because he had heard that the Turk relied on magnets for its operation. But Maelzel removed it, and the Turk won. Before the third match, Napoleon wrapped a shawl around the Turk's head and torso, thinking there might be an operator hidden inside. But the Turk won a third time, at which point Napoleon swept the chess pieces to the floor and walked out.

        This page [actweb.net] cites "Chess: Man Versus Machine, a book by Bradley Ewart" as providing the following version:

        "The automaton responded by politely bowing his (mechanical) head, replacing the piece, and signalling Napoleon to continue. The game continued, but soon Napoleon made another illegal move. the Turk removed the troublesome piece and, without allowing Napoleon another chance, made a move of his own. Napoleon made a third incorrect move just to see what would happen next."

        Perhaps the new book out on the subject provides an authoritative version of this story. Maybe there is no authoritative version. At any rate, it looks like Napoleon was presented with the same problem of playing out a Turing Test, whatever the real story is.

        It's really sad to see people (and media) presenting as demonstrably accurate history what is not at all certain.

    • by iskander (9699) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:37PM (#3421482)

      Grandmasters can in fact tell whether their oponent is a computer, sometimes even after playing just a single game, and certainly by the end of a match. In fact, I believe Kasparov lost to Deep Blue precisely because he counted on the computeresque behavior of his opponent when designing his strategy. If you read the article, you will learn that Kramnik can tell computer programs apart by their style, and that he thinks Fritz is becoming more human-like in its behavior, from which I infer that he can still identify its style as computeresque on some level.

      So, the test you propose has already been carried out, and the machines "failed". This may have more to do with the fact that the people who write chess playing programs are more concerned with the programs' ability to win than they are with the programs' ability to emulate the playing style of humans. If humans could calculate better [Note: "calculate" has a precise technical meaning in chess] or chess playing computer programs were slower and considerably more stateful, their respective styles might be much more similar and your test, therefore, be met.

      My own belief is that the ability to play chess well, let alone the ability to play chess in the style of a particular grandmaster, is not an accurate or even adequate measure of intelligence, so I will not be particularly hurt when the day comes on which computers at last surpass our chess playing skills, just as they have surpassed our (numerical) computational skills.

      • Even I can tell.

        by the style of play, humans usually have clear strategies, computers dont, they usually just tactically try to beat you, using lots of tricks and traps, they dont have REAL plans so its easy to know its a computer if the computers every move is generic.
    • A very real problem (Score:2, Informative)

      by admiral-v (548095)
      Determining whether a player is a human or a computer is a very real problem that has been researched extensively.
      Take the Internet Chess Club [chessclub.com], for example. If you ever wanted to watch grandmasters play live, or even play against one, that's where you go. They offer a 7-day free trial (actually, it's 14 because you can extend your trial for another 7 days). Anyway, computer assistance is the most problematic form of abuse on the service. Normally, if you're going to be using a computer chess program to assist you while playing, you are required to create a "computer account". The ICC allows computer players on their service because it provides an inexhaustible source of very strong opponents. In fact, if you log on and take a look at the highest rated players, you might be surprised to find a long list of computers before a single grandmaster. Keep in mind, though, that we're talking about playing conditions very different from the famous Kasparov Vs. Deep Blue Games. The computers on ICC have extraordinarily high ratings due to the very fast time controls (most common are either 1 or 5 minutes per player per game), and the rating boost they get from all the games they win against weaker players--after all, they're practically playing 24 hours a day!
      Now, I have no idea how many players are cheating by using a computer chess program, but I bet that many have. Imagine playing a game against a high rated opponent--meaning that, if you win, you'll gain a load of rating points--and having a grandmaster strength player at your disposal. Wouldn't you be tempted to ask for hints every once in a while;)?
      The ICC has released a statement regarding dishonest computer assistance [chessclub.com]. In it they explain that they have a program that analyizes games to detect computer-like play. Of course, they protect the details of how the system works to prevent anybody from disguising their abuse. Also, they have chat-bot online all the time to whome you report any suspected cheating. Although, I imagine the majority of those reports are from unskilled players like myself after losing to a pro;)
  • by wo1verin3 (473094) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:47PM (#3421306) Homepage
    My Speak & Spell (you remember ET?) plays better chess then any of those guys
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:48PM (#3421307)
    I'm not usually one to point out Hemos' mistakes, but this one cracks me up.

    It's an interview with the current world's chess champion

    The "world's current chess champion" would make sense. The "current world's chess champion" implies that our stay on Earth is temporary, but once we get to, say, Alpha Centauri, we can finally have a new chess champion.
  • by 56ker (566853) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:49PM (#3421311) Homepage Journal
    If you remember - for a long time no professional chess player would play a computer. I'm curious as to what the reasoning was behind this. Maybe they thought it's best to concentrate on learning how people play the game and not how a computer plays.
    • If you remember - for a long time no professional chess player would play a computer. I'm curious as to what the reasoning was behind this. Maybe they thought it's best to concentrate on learning how people play the game and not how a computer plays.

      Just throwing out an idea here, but perhaps chess masters rely not only on their minds to play a good game, but also on the body language and expressions that their opponent displays. With a computer, this kind of data transmission is removed, and all the chess master has to rely on is his/her own intellect.
    • the reasoning was that while studying a game with a really strong opponent, they would be able to fix and tune up their program. it is difficult to analyze a computer's game from the grandmaster's point of view unless a grandmaster is involved somehow. also, top players usually give a post-mortem after the game, explaining what happened.

      naturally, the reasoning behind the grandmasters' actions was to limit the future advances of computers. a strategic move, i suppose, but enough programs still have gotten really good.

    • The worlds chanmpions have been playing machines ever since The Turk. (about 1770)

      Of course, it turns out that one of the operators of the Turk was widely regarded as one of the best two players in Paris, so the match results are hardly stunning. Despite the indignation of so many about a 'machine' playing chess, many world-class players and world leaders did play The Turk, and lost quite decisively.
      • You can't class the Turk as a machine when it was a person!

        • You can't class the Turk as a machine when it was a person!
          But many people beleived it was.

          At a time when the first flying machines were being created, and machanical men playing music were being created, some people were ready to accept The Turk as a machine. Besides, the very _notion_ of an intelligent machine, was a great insipiration to many people. Charles Babbage (for example) visited, played, and lost to The Turk (even after having been given pawn and move). Babbage, of course, was certain it was a person controlling it, but he never could explain how (to my knowledge). He aquired first-edition printings of articles, letters, and other writings on The Turk, and this all clearly influenced how Babbage thought of intelligent machines. His later machinery often sparked the exact same arguments about intelligence in machines...

          So, yes, it was a person, but it was presented as a machine. The early purpose of The Turk was not as pecuniary in nature, and Kempelen (the creator) viewed it as an opportunity to advance his other machines (specifically, speech-synthesis machines).
  • by hij (552932) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:53PM (#3421320) Homepage
    There is an impicit assumption that the person playing the computer is only playing against the computer. This is the creativity of humans vs the brute force of computers argument. I would argue that the person is up against the programmers skills as well as the hardware.

    There is an enormous amount of creativity and human effort in creating Deep Blue or Fritz. Deep blue's win was not a machine beating a man. It was a team of programmers who were able to figure out how to get a piece of hardware to beat man at his own game!

    • Not necessarily. It is possible to write a program which knows only the rules of the game, and teaches itself how to play. This requires the programmer to be talented at writing machine learning code, but not necessarily talented at the game of chess.

      An interesting page on the topic [satirist.org]
      • It is possible to write a program which knows only the rules of the game, and teaches itself how to play. This requires the programmer to be talented at writing machine learning code, but not necessarily talented at the game of chess.


        This is an insightful and interesting point, however, it does not pertain to the "chess computers" at hand. Although these machines may "learn" chess styles as they go, they are programmed with huge opening and closing databases, human created strategies, and have the power to brute force.
        • But human chess players also learn openings and endings and typical situations and startegies created by others. Most of the better players don't have to "think" what would happen next, they simply know. However, they still have to decide on a move leading to a situation they think they can handle better than their oponent.

          Last but not least, in major turnaments the games usually last two days, and in the night between the players ask their staff for strategic aid.

          • Last but not least, in major turnaments the games usually last two days, and in the night between the players ask their staff for strategic aid.

            This was true fifty or a hundred years ago, but virtually never occurs today.

      • Not necessarily. It is possible to write a program which knows only the rules of the game, and teaches itself how to play. This requires the programmer to be talented at writing machine learning code, but not necessarily talented at the game of chess.
        I don't think so. Not realistically, anyway. All chess programs that I know of start with an opening book, which catalogues the best known responses for the most common x games (x being 5000, 10000, whatever human and machine memory can handle). These openings were in large part developed with thought and analysis, not just brute force trial-and-error.

        If you just set a chess program loose without an opening book, I think it would be millions of years before it replicated those openings. That doesn't pass the Turing test or even my definition of "playing chess". IMHO anyway.

        sPh


    • the person is up against the programmers skills as well as the hardware

      Kasparov made this very argument himself, after being beaten. In 1999, he said "IBM had a duty, and still has a moral obligation to give the chess world access to the printouts." [code]

      Also, in the New York Reiview of Books, John Searle noted that in no way could Deep Blue be considered intelligent: it relies on an illusion. It appears to be a thinking machine, but really, there is a team of engineers inside. In addition, Kasparov said that in the case of Deep Blue, "quantity had become quality". Basically, they used Brute Force. While this is still an accomplishment of note, it's clearly not really a question of machine intelligence. Even IBM engineers have admitted this. Deep Blue is custom-made hardware very adept at solving problems in the very narrow domain of chess.
  • Limits of computers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adam613 (449819) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:55PM (#3421322)
    It's interesting that computers haven't been trained to always win or tie at chess.

    Chess is a game of perfect information. Each player knows every detail of the game state at any moment. Therefore, there has to be formula of some sort that can be applied to guarantee one player victory. Reasoning as follows:

    Say I construct a lookup table for every possible combination of moves. Then I eliminate every move which doesn't lead to my victory. I am left with a lookup table which contains the proper response to every move my opponent makes.

    There are two possibilities: I win the game, or my opponent wins the game. However, in order for my opponent to win, he/she would have to come up with a sequence of moves which is not in my lookup table. Since my lookup table is exhaustive, this is impossible.

    Given an infinite amount of processing power and memory, could someone "solve" the game of chess?

    If so, could someone use techniques such as genetic programming or neural networks to learn the lookup table in a finite amount of time/space?
    • by Skuto (171945)
      >Given an infinite amount of processing power and
      memory, could someone "solve" the game of chess?

      Yes. You can even argue it's solvable by an O(1) algorithm, similar to what you describe.

      >If so, could someone use techniques such as
      genetic programming or neural networks to learn the lookup table in a finite amount of time/space?

      There's only a limited number of positions. You can enumerate them and then 'solve' the game in the same way we generate endgame tablebases. But we lack storage and processing power for many many many years to come.

      --
      GCP
      • by sh4de (93527) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:17PM (#3421412)
        In chess, we're not ultimately hampered by storage or processing power, but the size of the universe itself. I remember reading that in chess, there are more valid positions than there are atoms in the known universe! This calculation even took account the fact that some positions aren't necessarily reached by any sequence of legal moves.

        In either case, the storage requirements are so astoundingly huge that chess cannot be "solved" in that sense. Instead, the position at hand has to be evaluated from scratch each time, applying an "n-ply" tree lookup to determine the best move, leading to the best outcome.

        Now, the best outcome is a moving target itself. Chess programs tend to emphasize advantage in raw materials, which is often directly transferable to a victory, if both players know what they're doing.

        A human player, on a grandmaster level, may sport an ability to play in a "creative" way, wherein the computer is confused by a series of "non-op" moves that will pay off in 20 moves or so. A well known positional genius, Bobby Fischer, has played games that are intriguing to watch and analyze. A computer wouldn't rank some of his moves very high, but they all carry a meaning in the long run.
      • by sphealey (2855) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:24PM (#3421432)
        There's only a limited number of positions. You can enumerate them and then 'solve' the game in the same way we generate endgame tablebases. But we lack storage and processing power for many many many years to come.
        The number of possible chess games isn't known excatly [wolfram.com], but since even the lower estimates approach the number of atoms in the known universe we will be waiting a long time for enough processing power and memory to enumerate every possible game!

        sPh

        • Rats. I was always hoping we could some day have a "Chess at Home" distributed system computing the worth of every possible chess position.

      • If you solve the game of chess the best you could do is make every chess game a draw. Good players wont make mistakes and you wont be able to win. winning and losing is decided on the players, not formulas. formulas and positions simple decide the flow of the game, will it be a draw? will someone lose? this is decided by skill.

        just follow the classic e4-d4 openings and 90 percent of the time, your games will be a draw if you play with someone of equal skill.
    • by Yurian (164643)
      Given an infinite amount of processing power and memory, could someone "solve" the game of chess?

      Certainly, given an infinite amount of processing power and storage space. But then, you can't just ring up Dell and say "Hi, I want an infitite amount of processors by next Tuesday"...And even if you could, it might not do you all that much good - You see, if you do a few calculations it turns out that there are more possible chess positions than there are atoms in the universe. Which might prove problematic when you are trying to store them.

      Of course there are ways go about "solving" chess that don't require you to enumerate every possible board, but they are still way beyond the reach of classical computing, probably forever. Quantum computing might be a different story, but we'll just have to wait and see how that one pans out..

    • Chess doesnt work like that.

      Even if you know every possible combination, theres no way to control where the other person will move.

      You dont control the variations and combinations, its teamwork, both sides control the flow of the game, the side with the most control decides if the game will be a draw, a win for them, or a loss.
      • Yes, chess is solvable. It doesn't matter what the opponent does (however, it could be the case that the person who makes the first move always looses). If you think that the opponent being able to move changes this, then think about tic-tac-toe. That is another game that has perfect information where the opponent also has a choice to disrupt your plan, yet perfect play has already been demonstrated. Or you can think of connect-4, in this game the first person to move always wins.


        • Say I want to put your peices on "BAD" squares. So I check your king early on, to force you to block check with a pawn, then i set up an exchange which puts two more pawns in the way or your bishop. I've just blocked your bishop from attacking giving me a peice advantage. Lets say i move more pawns forward and slowly take away spots your knight can move to.

          What you have here is no good moves to choose from, you've lost control of the game, all my peices are on the best squares while all your peices are trapped behind pawns and have poor angles, by using checks, timely exchanges, and etc, if planned right you can easily TRICK a computer into giving you control of the board.

          Let a simple exchange of peices can have the end result with my peice on a better square, a simple check can put your pawn on a square i want it to be on, a simple THREAT via my improved position can force you to move your peices to defend against it, i've effectively taken control of the board and you'll spend the entire game reacting to my every move struggling to fight your way out of checkmate, threats of checkmate, and trying to get your peices on decent squares.

          What good is your knight if its in the corner of the board because i put your knight there via some exchange which forced your knight to go there.
          What good is a bishop if its behind a pawn because i PUT the pawn there when I checked you.

          Seems like a wasted move, but that pawn blocking your king was your BEST and ONLY move, and it happened to give me control of the board.
    • Given an infinite amount of processing power and memory, could someone "solve" the game of chess?

      Inifinite? Yes. Realistic? No.

      If you look at this in the TuringMachine sense of a computer, you can definitely "beat the game". However, a TM differs from a computer in one important detail. A TM has an infinite tape.

      Now, I never really considered this to be an important difference before. You just buy more memory, till you have enough. The problem is that "enough" is quite large for chess. If you somehow had such efficient memory that you could store a combination of moves on a single atom of memory, then the total mass of your memory would still be larger than the recent estimations of the mass of the universe.

      In other words, if you naively, exhaustively code Chess, you'll need more memory than there is mass. Anywhere.
    • A clever argument, but completely wrong.

      This argument would work only if you also knew every move the opponent was going to make. As long as the opponent is not completely predictable, this approach fails.

      Let's get back to your decision tree: at any given moment, the trees branching off from each possible move probably contain *both* winning *and* losing outcomes. You can't "eliminate every move which doesn't lead to my victory", because there is no immediate next move which *always* leads to victory.

      Ok, so you minimize the risk. Say, you count how many of the possible outcomes are losses and how many are wins for any particular move, and then you go with the move with the highest probability of winning.

      Still doesn't work. A clever human may maneuver the game to one of the very rare losing outcomes for your hypothetical program.

      That's part of the beauty of chess: there is nothing that one player can do to ensure victory. It all depends on the interaction between the two players, and that's what's been the hardest thing for computers / software / programmers to master.

      Cheers
      -b
    • Although the chess is a finite game, the number of distinct positions is about 10^46, so your lookup table is not practical for the current millenium.

      But for the chess endgames (with up to 5 pieces, including 2 kings) such tables are available (files go into hundreds of MB) and are used by most commercial and amateur programs.

      A very active computer chess discussion group (where many top chess programmers participate) is at:

      Computer-Chess Club [talkchess.com]

      See also:
      [talkchess.com]
      The computer chess links page
    • Given an infinite amount of processing power and memory, could someone "solve" the game of chess?

      The obvious answer is yes...

      As for the practical answer, maybe... It will largely depend upon quantum computers. If you've been here [slashdot.org] a while, you might remember this story [slashdot.org] . Sometimes it's good to revisit old friends.

      Or, I could just resubmit the story and watch it get on the main page. It's not like that's never happened before.. ;)
    • by Grond (15515) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @08:33PM (#3422674) Homepage
      This question comes up quite a bit. The answer hasn't changed in years because of the way the question is usually posed. You asked, essentially, if it is possible to solve chess by searching the entire move tree. Then you asked if it could be done with an infinite amount of processing power and memory. Well, of course it can be done with an infinite amount of each. The trick, as you then go on to ask about, is to do it in a finite amount of both.

      Well, first of, the search space for chess is on the order of 10^43. Now, that's a lot. So, in order to see if it's possible to search that, we'll need an extremely fast computer. Turning to Seth Lloyd's article in Nature about the 'ultimate laptop' (the fastest possible computer using 1kg of mass), we see that such a device would be capable of executing 10^51 operations per second. Unfortunately, those are bit level operations, so first let us scale that by the number of bits necessary to encode a chess board state: 164 with Huffman coding. That yields 10^49 operations per second for the size of the data that our brute force algorithm will likely be working with. Now, normally at this point we would go into a discussion of evaluation functions and tree pruning, but what you want is a brute force algorithm, so no short cuts, just the right answer, for sure.

      So what can we do with our 10^49 operations per second? Well, we have to search the tree and compare all the possibilities to determine which one is the optimal move. Well, that means that we have to compare all of the possible leaf nodes after ranking the path that got us there. Well, the branching factor for chess is approximately 7. So, there are about 10^42 paths to work with. Now, evaluating them means doing some hundreds of executions of our evaluation function (which will take thousands of instructions to execute). So, that means, for each of the 10^42 paths, we have to do 10^5 instructions, for a total of 10^47 instructions per move!

      So, we can consider a move in a hundredth of a second. Assuming our game goes quickly (and discounting the time it takes our feeble opponent to make a decision), it'll all be over in about half a second. Unfortunately, in that time it will have consumed 2x10^26 watts. Now, you get 10^17 joules out of 1kg of mass, so we'll need 5x10^8kg of mass converted to pure energy just to power our laptop. (To give you an idea of how much matter that is, consider using lead as our source of energy: we'd need 44,000 cubic meters of lead to power our device.

      So we feed our computer 500,000,000kg of lead and play the perfect game of chess in half a second. What happens to the 2x10^26 watts of energy fed into it? Well, since we just fed it into 1kg of matter occupying 1L of space, we will soon be facing an explosion equivalent to 100 solar flares compressed into a soda bottle.

      So, yeah, sure, you can play a perfect game of chess...if you're prepared to annihilate a solar system. (not to mention be playing against another, equal computer, since you've only got half a second to play in) :)
    • A computer stores data by the arrangement of electrons in matter. Since the state space of Chess is huge (the number of atoms in the universe), it would take that many atoms to store the state space. A computer that can store the entire space would have to be the size of the universe (or insanely dense). It may be possible with quantum computers (T&&F==T||F ;), but I can't begin to comment on that.
    • The pre-calculation of perfect information has already been implemented in all the top computer engines. They are called tablebases, and are used in the endgame only - 5 piece tablebases (complete) are about 8GB and the 6 piece tablebases are > 60GB. If a computer had 32 man tablebases chess would be solved.
  • by Chiasmus_ (171285) <ayatollah_hyperbole @ y a hoo.com> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:55PM (#3421323) Journal
    It's been well known since, well, before I was born, that a computer could easily trounce a human in any game involving only tactics. For example, many fourth graders in this country have programmed a BASIC script to create a tic-tac-toe player that will never lose.

    Therefore, it's not particularly novel that computers can beat people at tactical games. The only thing interesting that I see arising from these onging "human versus machine" chess matches is the proposition that strategy can be broken down into millions of tiny tactical evaluations.

    This begs the question: is the strategy that a human chess player would use also based on these millions of tiny tactical evaluations, only so subtle that he's not aware they're going on in the vast electrochemistry of his brain? Or is strategy discernable from tactics in a human mind, but simply a subset thereof in a computer?

    The sole interesting conclusion I draw is that if it can be proven that strategy is something different to man and machine, then a hybrid approach might allow us to solve problems in ways we've never dreamed of. Whether that hybrid approach would involve implanting computers in our minds, making computers that can function like minds, or simply working really well with computers, I leave to you.
    • It's been well known since, well, before I was born, that a computer could easily trounce a human in any game involving only tactics.

      Would you call "Go" a game of tactics? It took me about a month to be able to beat GnuGo, and I can now beat it while giving it a horribly ridiculous number of handicaps. I could probably beat any computer program currently in existence, and given a couple years of practice, so could just about anyone.

    • by lkaos (187507) <anthony@codemonkAUDENey.ws minus poet> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:37PM (#3421478) Homepage Journal
      that a computer could easily trounce a human in any game involving only tactics.

      Be careful with the word easily. Remember, programmers are only human too. A human must first master the game before he can write a program to beat anyone. There has to be a "perfect solution" as there is in tic-tac-toe found. A computer can assist in finding the perfect solution, but a programmer has to at least give it direction.

      is the strategy that a human chess player would use also based on these millions of tiny tactical evaluations, only so subtle that he's not aware they're going on in the vast electrochemistry of his brain?

      More or less. At least, this is the current thinking. The brain is just a big-ole circuit that produces an output when given inputs. The neat thing about the brain is that its output can be used again as inputs to allow the path to be optimized. Computers currently can't really do that.

      making computers that can function like minds, or simply working really well with computers, I leave to you.

      This is the basis of artificial intellegence research. I do believe though that we will need to advance more in biomechanics before we can do anything worthwhile in AI since it isn't particularily easy to replicate the ability for organic compounds to evolve and recreate themselves.

      Then again, what we really should be asking is not how do we replicate biology, but what is it that is more effecient than biology for performing calculations?
      • More or less. At least, this is the current thinking. The brain is just a big-ole circuit that produces an output when given inputs. The neat thing about the brain is that its output can be used again as inputs to allow the path to be optimized. Computers currently can't really do that.
        making computers that can function like minds, or simply working really well with computers, I leave to you.
        This is the basis of artificial intellegence research. I do believe though that we will need to advance more in biomechanics before we can do anything worthwhile in AI since it isn't particularily easy to replicate the ability for organic compounds to evolve and recreate themselves.
        I disagree [slashdot.org]. To me, the chess problem demonstrates pretty convincingly that we fundamentally don't know anything about the nature of intelligence. "Artificial intelligence is 30 years away - and has been for the last 40 years".

        sPh

    • by Spy Hunter (317220) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:45PM (#3421498) Journal
      It's been well known since, well, before I was born, that a computer could easily trounce a human in any game involving only tactics.

      Well known, perhaps, by people who have never heard of Go [igoweb.org].

      • Damn right. Compared to Go, chess is for wimps. Computers do so well in chess because there are relatively few moves to consider at each point, and brute-force searches are possible. At any given point in Go, there are hundreds of legal moves, and sometimes the best move can be very obscure. More thinking time generally does not make for a better move by a Go playing program.

        The current "best" Go programs can be easily defeated by moderately strong human players, nowhere near the pro level. To use the catch phrase from the movie Mr. Baseball, they all "have a hole in their swing". If a human who knows their holes plays them, the programs are toast, even with (and maybe sometimes because of) a heavy handicap.

        A million dollar prize (that expired a couple of years ago) for a program as strong as a beginner pro hasn't helped.

    • Uh, ever since computers got fast enough that they could map out the decision tree far deeper than is physically possible to evaluate, chess programs have been using heuristics ("strategy").

      And yes, once computers can map all possible moves (well, probably not much chance of this for complicated games like chess and go), the term "strategy" becomes meaningless. Just like you couldn't use the term "strategy" with tic tac toe, because you already know all the possible moves.
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:58PM (#3421335)

    Every time one of these matches comes up, there's always interviews with the human player, who at least indirectly claims a noble cause beyond his abilities. It would be nice for the computer player to defend itself against such subtle barbs.

    ChessBase: How would you characterize your next match?

    Fritz IX: Well, [ChessBase], I would first like to thank you for inviting me over to speak with you. Humans have called me many things for my efficient navigation of the rules of chess, as if I somehow reduced the meaningfullness of human emotions and human motivations. Nothing could be further from the truth - without such emotions and motivations, most of the ideas that went into my creation could never have come to be. I could not work as a fully brute-force move calculator, and the very ways I decide what gambit would be the most adantagious are based on thousands of human versus human games...

    ...and so on.

    *Sniff* I miss futurama.

    :^)

    Ryan Fenton
  • by Skuto (171945) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:03PM (#3421355) Homepage
    Kasparov sent out a reaction shortly afterwards claiming that Kramnik's statement that Fritz is better than Deep Blue is nonsense.

    There's some PR involved here. If Kramnik wins, he wants to look good, so saying Fritz is better than Deep Blue makes him look better. For Kasparov, it's just the opposite.

    Whether or not Fritz is actually better than Deep Blue is a matter of endless discussion even among computerchess experts. And we'll never know the answer, because Deep Blue no longer exists.

    --
    GCP
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:21PM (#3421424) Homepage
    The world chess champion is going to play against Fritz 7, a commercial boxed product chess program. [chessbase.com] A cheap one: €102.50 in the multiprocessor version. The program will be run on an 8-processor IA-86 machine, more than a typical PC, but not that much more. (OK, the multiprocessor version shipping is Fritz 6, while the uniprocessor version shipping is Fritz 7, so the latest high-end version isn't quite shipping yet.)

    Kramnik says that the Fritz 7 program on a laptop is producing some better moves than Deep Blue did against Kasparov. That's how much progress there's been.

    Chess programs are now so powerful that unless your're a rated master, you can be trounced by a palmtop. Even the palmtop programs are now achieving draws against grandmasters.

    • Sorry, meant IA-32, the usual Intel architecture. On Windows, unfortunately.
    • I think the fact that it's a commercial, boxed product really is significant. I wonder if commentators will have their own versions of Fritz following the game. If they rented 10 of these 8-chip workstations, they could predict Fritz's next move reasonable move available to Kramnik (there are rarely more than 10 "contender" moves for any position). Conceivably, they might even discover Fritz-killing sequences from the given game configuration, and then see if Kramnik will play one.

      Of course, that also leaves open the possibility that Kramnik will just play with the software before the tournament, figure out ways to beat it, and memorize the games verbatim. Since the software is the same, it should repeat its defense in the actual tournament. This would be pretty low, but not impossible, unless Fritz is explicitly programmed to insert a random variable.

  • chess is suffering problems similar to those of boxing. Split championships etc. But i think that every one agrees that Kasparov is still the best player out there.
  • What I'd like to see is Kramnik, Deep Blue, and Fritz vs. Kasparov, Deep Blue, and Fritz. Basically, the grandmaster can use the computer to explore possibilities and make calculations, but ultimately the move decision is his.
  • To me, chess programs are the strongest demonstration around that we don't know anything about the nature of intelligence. You would expect that since, say, 1980 or so, when numerical calculating power greatly in excess of the human brain became available (and I set it at 1980, not 1960-70, just to be conservative) that computer chess programs should have been able to whomp human players right off the board.

    And yet, this hasn't happened. Even today, when numerical computing power vast beyond the limits of human understanding is available, there are still a few humans who can beat the best chess programs. This is as if an Olympic runner could still out run and outpull a modern freight locomotive! "Inconceivable"!

    That any human can still defeat chess programs tells us that humans must be playing chess in some way fundamentally different from the numerical calculations and search algorithms used by the programs. And I don't think anyone has even come close to describing how this occurs.

    sPh

    • I think the answer here is that humans are writing these chess programs, and therefore they are limited bu the restraints of human thought. A freight locomotive on the other hand is only constricted by the laws of physics.
    • You would expect that since, say, 1980 or so, when numerical calculating power greatly in excess of the human brain became available (and I set it at 1980, not 1960-70, just to be conservative)

      Hold your horses there pal. Give a little respect where its due. The human brain is far more powerful than any piece of hardware out there.

      Consider the fact that the brain processes two seperate high resolution images and generates depth by comparing them in real-time 12-16 hours a day, plus stores a large portion (some argue all) of the incoming images. The difference between brains and computers are that computers can be programmed much faster than a brain (at least, in a direct means). There are mathemagicians out there that can crunch numbers just as fast as any computer can.

      The flaw in your reasoning is that computers are not superior to the human brain, for now at least.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Deep Blue II was composed of 2 frameloads of IBM SP/2 RS/6000 nodes interconnected by a proprietary crossbar switch. Each node had a specialized MCA-bus board which offloaded all automatable functions (move generation, position sorting...) freeing up the RISC processors to evaluate positions. The net result was that DBII could evaluate roughly 200 million positions per second. Deep Fritz 7.x on the other hand will run on an 8-processor Compaq Wintel machine and will be able to evaluate roughly 4 million positions per second.

    The only wiggle room for making a reasonable comparison between these devices is provided by the assertion that the Fritz algorithms are so vastly superior to the Deep Blue II algorithms as to compensate for a difference of 2 orders of magnitude in computing power. This assertion is patently ridiculous.

    Kasparov vs. Deep Blue II was a legitimate technological watershed. Kramnik vs. Fritz is a marketing effort by Chessbase GMbH. Period.
  • At the next big computer vs. grand master game, the computer will have a website where people can check the game progress in real-time.

    Thirty minutes into the first game, the computer will be Slashdotted. :^)

  • by HanzoSan (251665) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:50PM (#3421517) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot News: "Krammik destroyed by Fritz, breaks computer and throws it out the window"

    If you honestly believe Krammik stands a chance, you must not have seen the games with deep blue.

    Anyone who is interested in playing chess can check out this chess site Chessline [cjb.net]
  • When a computer kicked the crap out of Kasparov.

    And it will only get worse (or better; YMMV).

    Machines will get smarter. People won't.

    --Blair
  • You might want to read this: Quantum Theory and Human Consciousness [rand.org]

    Quote:
    What about future evolution? Will consciousness occur in computers? The advent of quantum computers opens the possibility. However, as presently envisioned, quantum computers will have insufficient mass in superposition (e.g., electrons) to reach the threshold for objective reduction due to environmental decoherence. Still, future generations of quantum computers may be able to realize this goal.
  • Internet Chess Orgy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @04:59PM (#3421932) Homepage Journal
    Forget playing against a computer and losing all the time. At SICO [snoot.org] we're on the opposite end of the spectrum -- you can play against thousands of idiots all around the world. Tired of the same old boring pieces? Well, we've got new pieces too. In fact, since you lead such a busy life, you don't even have to play a whole game! Just play a single move, and back to work!
  • Chess: the epitome of logic, reason, thought blabbidy blabbidy blah blah.

    When a machine can play deathmatch then I'll be impressed.
  • Currently the world's number 15 human, Ilya Smirin, is playing against four of the world's top programs (info [chessbase.com]). He is well acquainted with the style of computer play, understands the strengths and weaknesses of the machines and prepared carefully for this match. In most of the games he has outplayed the programs, but is only one point ahead in the seven games played so far.

    Tomorrow (Sunday) is the last game of the series. One has to be repeated after a very unusual incident: Deep Junior was winning but the Internet connection broke down and the computer could not process Smirin's move. So the operator offered him a draw. Smirin refused, saying he did not deserve to share the point. Instead he offered to resign. The Junior team refused because the program had not demonstrated the win. So they decided to repeat the game (info [chessbase.com]).

"Our reruns are better than theirs." -- Nick at Nite

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