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Thoughts on Chess and AI

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In 1997, Gary Kasparov, one of history’s most gifted chess players, lost to Deep Blue, a $10 million specialized supercomputer programmed by a team from IBM. When I met Gary over dinner one night in London in 2001, I don’t think even he would have predicted how far and how fast the related fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning would develop in the twenty years since that match; moving beyond Chess, to Atari arcade games and finally the greatest board game challenge of them all, the game of Go.

It was Soviet mathematician and computer scientist, Alexander Kronrod’s idea that “chess is the Drosophila of artificial intelligence.” In other words, looking at chess is one way to make sense of the broader picture, just as the humble fruit fly has helped us decipher human genetics.

In today’s big data world, AI and machine learning applications already analyze massive amounts of structured and unstructured data and produce valuable insights in a fraction of the time.  A chess…