As Tampa Bay battled Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII, chess grand master Garry Kasparov began his personal battle against Deep Junior in the "Super Bowl" of chess, a showdown called "Man vs. Machine."
The man, Garry Kasparov, became Soviet junior champion in 1976 at age 12. He has held the number 1 point-system ranking since 1984. But in 1997, Deep Blue, a custom computer built by IBM to play chess, defeated Kasparov. It calculated 50,000,000,000 positions every three minutes! Kasparov could analyze roughly ten positions in the same time period.
In 2003, Kasparov's machine opponent was Deep Junior, a three-time world champion who has not lost to a human in two years. As opposed to Deep Blue, it processes only 3,000,000 moves per second, but programmers say that instead of relying on sheer calculation power, Junior has artificial intelligence that gives it more human-like judgment.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a branch of science that looks at using computers to model how humans think and learn. But can a computer really learn to think like a human? Consider this: If you touch a hot stove, you will yank your hand away immediately; the sequence of events, including the burning sensation, gets stored in your brain. This is called an experience. The next time you see a hot stove, you will "download" the previous experience and decide not to repeat it again.
This process of learningcomparing a previous experience, making a decision, and acting upon itis the key to human intelligence. As humans gather more and more experiences, they can make more complicated decisions. The goal of scientists in the field of AI is to make computers learn and perform these decision-making tasks, as humans do.
What makes chess so interesting and difficult is the enormous number of possible moves. Chess grand masters rely on gut feeling and intuition to plan a specific strategy that is most likely to work. Computers don't have intuition; they are simply programmed to examine and select only possible moves and concentrate on them. According to AI experts, chess computers and other AI projects will succeed when they are able to learn and make decisions on their own.
So for now, Mr. Kasparov can rely on his human intuition to beat his computer counterpart.