Garry Kasparov on chess, tech, Trump and Putin

by ChessBase
11/20/2019 – Garry Kasparov became, at the age of 22, the youngest World Champion in chess history. His famous matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue brought chess and artificial intelligence into the mainstream. Now, he’s focusing on the quiet war Russia is waging against U.S. democracy. Last week he sat down on the PBS show (in collaboration with CNN) Amanpour and Company and, with Miles O’Brien, discussed everything from computer chess, troll farms to election interference.

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Amanpour and Company

A recent addition to the stable of shows on American public television, Amanpour and Company is a one-hour public affairs series featuring, as described on its 'about' page, "wide-ranging, in-depth conversations with global thought leaders and cultural influencers on the issues and trends impacting the world each day, from politics, business and technology to arts, science and sports."

Garry Kasparov's appearance was published on November 12th:

Here is some of the main chess-related points in the interview:

Miles O'Brien: Take us back to 1997, and a match, a quite celebrated match, between you and a machine. Going into that tournament in 1997, did you think humans still have supremacy?

Garry Kasparov, chess grandmaster & activist: Yes. Most likely. We experienced troubles against some chess engines like Fritz or Deep Junior. And I think one thing we couldn’t understand is that the machine would always have a steady hand. So it’s not about solving the game which is mathematically impossible, the number of legal words in the game of chess. According to Claude Shannon, it’s I think 10 to the 46th power. But it’s about making mistakes. So Deep Blue was by today’s standards, today’s chess engine standards, not sort of a great success. The free chess app on your mobile is probably stronger than Deep Blue. Try chess engines that you can buy online and put on your laptop: they are so much stronger than the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen. The gap between the world champion today and a chess engine, just an ordinary one that you can buy online is the same between say Usain Bolt and a Ferrari.

O’Brien: People have looked at that moment and seen it as a pivot point. You think that’s overstating it?

Kasparov: For me, that was a revelation that started human versus machine. We should look for human plus machine, for a collaboration. Anything that can be classified as a closed system, the machine will be better. If we know how to do it, a machine will do it better. So whether it’s game of chess, any video game, Texas Hold Em Poker, machines will do it better. For a simple reason: not because they play perfectly – there’s no perfection to the universe. No machine will ever reach 100%. They will make a few mistakes. It’s about precision, it’s about vigilance during the game that no humans could sustain.

O’Brien: I think it’s probably accurate to say that you’re the first knowledge worker in the world who had his job replaced by machine.

Kasparov: Again, "replaced" is overstatement. Threatened, endangered, challenged. Because the chess hasn’t stopped. People are still playing chess. Actually, chess is far more popular today than it used to be 25 years ago. One of the reasons, actually: computers. More people can follow chess games and while understanding what is happening. So there’s simple to have their computer at their elbow. They look at the game played by the top players, the world championship match and they don’t need even commentaries. Okay commentaries are always nice, but they can look at their computer screen and they can know exactly what’s happening.

O’Brien: So are you making a larger point about technology here? We always fear that technology is going to displace us in some fashion. But it doesn’t always turn out that way, does it?

Kasparov: It never did. I mean the problem is that while those who are spreading this fear, this army of doom-sayers, they are ignoring the fact that many times in history, the humanity faced this kind of challenges. Many industries have been ruined, jobs lost, people got desperate. But then we move forward. And I think now it’s we simply ignore the fact that technology is the main reason why so many of us are still alive to complain about technology. Just look at the average lifespan, the quality of life, thanks to technology. It’s a human pride – we always thought that our cognitive skills will never be challenged. It’s the same story. I think eventually it helps us to become more human, to become more creative. I mean you can sit passively, waiting for technology to change your life around us. But you can be more proactive and look for ways to free us, to inspire our creativity and to help us to realize our grandest dreams.

Read (and listen to) the rest of the very interesting interview on PBS.




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Daniel77 Daniel77 11/22/2019 08:48
Always inspiring to hear Garry Kasparov speak.
Vasya1 Vasya1 11/21/2019 03:18
KungFuChess, I am really long time fan of Garry, it is sad thing in my eyes. I do not have any sympathy to Putin, though.
Pioblue Pioblue 11/21/2019 10:39
Poor Kasparov, the whole world seems to be against you!
KungFuChess KungFuChess 11/21/2019 06:45
Vasya1, unfortunately, became a clown out of hate of Kasparov hating Putin.
Vasya1 Vasya1 11/21/2019 03:58
Garry, unfortunately became clown out of hate to Putin...
Marselos Marselos 11/20/2019 06:42
Chess grandmaster & activist-not playing
But that's life: you speak or you play chess .
You can't do both.
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