Arte: through the night with...

1/5/2011 – Garry Kasparov, who requires no introduction on the news page, and Peter Andreas Thiel, a German-born American entrepreneur and venture capitalist who was instrumental in founding or promoting companies like PayPal, Facebook and LinkedIn (and is a 2300 strength chess player). The two spent a day together in New York, and the European TV network Arte recorded the event.

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Through the Night with...

As a chess player Garry Kasparov has broken many records, but he has also been active – especially after retiring from professional chess in 2005. As a sharp critic of Vladimir Putin he is considered a freedom fighter in the USA and is a regular on many political TV shows.

His efforts on behalf of human rights and democracy connect him with the similarly-thinking Peter Thiel, who has fought for freedom of the press.

Thiel is also an enthusiastic and successful chess player. As and investor or co-founder he was instrumental to the success of many Start-ups which today are an integral part of the web, e.g. PayPal, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The day these two men spent together in New York was recorded by a camera team of Arte (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne), which is a Franco-German TV network that aims to promote quality programming especially in areas of culture and the arts. Because it is an international joint venture (an EEIG), programs cater technically to audiences from both countries. This implies double-titling, opposite-language subtitling and dubbing, hosts speaking both languages alternately and generally two separate audio tracks (available through DVB-T, satellite television and digital cable). Here's the 52-minute report which is well worth watching.

The Arte report on Kasparov + Thiel in New York


The subtitles are in German, but it is als available with French subtitles

Some highlights of the report

This high-class summit begins in the Robotics Lab of Columbia University. Kasparov and Thiel are shown the machines that have been developed there. Kasparov lectures the robot technicians and we get a glimpse of a startling thesis he is currently proposing: that technological progress has ground to a halt, that it has become horizontal, not vertical. "What can computers do today that they couldn't to 25 years ago (apart from speed)?" he asks. Kasparov and Thiel are keenly interested in artificial intelligence and its limitations – which were probed by Kasparov in his legendary matches against different chess programs.


In the limo on their way to the next stop the two discuss current chess programs


Garry tells Peter Thiel that Rybka is "phenomenally good"


For centuries, Garry says, chess has served as an ultimate test of human intellect


Chess is still very big: "If you count the Internet it's 1.5 million games per day."


Then Kasparov and Thiel visit the historical Marshall Chess Club, where Dr. Frank Brady shows Garry and Peter the board that was used in the famous teletype match which Bobby played in 1965 in Havanna – watch how Garry pulls the dates out of his hat.


With Kasparov as a referee Brady and Thiel (who is a 2300 player) have an informal game


Then they are joined by Maurice Ashley, whom Garry calls "the best chess promoter in the world."


This section, which starts at around 23' 25" into the video, becomes particularly interesting
when Maurice turns it into an interview on FIDE and the World Championship cycle


After that the two proceed to the Human Rights Foundation, where they engage in
a discussion with its founder Thor Halversson


The last section of the report shows Thiel and Kasparov having dinner in the very exclusive Norwood Club, which is usually only open to its members. The two cover a wide range of subjects, but, as the Arte press text says: "It is a perfectly normal evening for two men who help shape form the destiny of the world."


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