Kasparov on the future of Artificial Intelligence

by Frederic Friedel
12/29/2016 – "You will go down in history as the first person to be beaten by a machine in an intellectual pursuit where you were the most advanced member of our species," says American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist in this extraordinary podcast interview with Garry Kasparov. After discussing the current world political situation they go on to the subject of machine intelligence. Kasparov also announced a book called Deep Thinking that is due for release in May.

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The Sam Harris podcast with Garry Kasparov is 1½ hours long and was conducted on Skype. The bulk of it is devoted to the recent US election, the Russian influence on this process, the problem of waning American power, the rise of Putin, and the coming presidency of Donald Trump. Chess colleagues who have a much deeper understanding of international politics than Kasparov and Sam Harris can ignore this section. They must, however, concede that the level of discourse is very high and the eloquence and verbal skills Kasparov has achieved in his second language are quite remarkable.

In any case if you are so inclined you can fast forward to part on computer chess and the future of intelligent machines, where the opinion of 13th World Champion is undoubtedly relevant. As Sam Harris puts it to Kasparov: "You will go down in history as the first person to be beaten by a machine in an intellectual pursuit where you were the most advanced member of our species. You will have a special place in history, even if that history is written by robot overlords."

The section on Artificial Intelligence, on which Sam Harris has spoken and written about very convincingly in the past, begins at 1 hour 16:20 min into the Kasparov podcast. Harris initiates the discussion with an important point: "Chess is this a quintessential intellectual activity, but it is actually a fairly simple one, similar to the way that music and mathematics can be simple. This is one of the reasons why you have child prodigies in these areas, and you don't have child prodigies in novel writing or political debates or other areas that are different in an intellectual sense. This is one of the reasons why chess was one of the first things to fall to Artificial Intelligence." He goes on to quiz Kasparov about his experiences in the past decades, and Kasparov reveals that he is working on a new book on the subject, Deep Thinking, that is coming out in May 2017, the 20th anniversary of his second match against Deep Blue. Sam announces that there will be a second podcast when it appears, one that we can all look forward to.

Kasparov says [at 1:17:40] that after he beat the computer in 1996 and then lost to it in 1997 he was quite upset that IBM didn't want to play a rubber match [the decider]. "It's a painful story, since I will be entering history as the chess champion who represented humanity in an intellectual pursuit and was beaten by the machine. But the reason I wrote the book is not to settle old scores or give my version of the match, but to say that we should not be paralyzed by a dystopian vision of the future – worrying about killer AI and super-intelligent robots, which is like worrying about overcrowding on Mars."

Even more remarkable is that Kasparov [1:19:10] has had a change of heart: "While writing the book I did a lot of research – analysing the games with modern computers, also soul-searching – and I changed my conclusions. I am not writing any love letters to IBM, by my respect for the Deep Blue team went up, and my opinion of my own play, and Deep Blue's play, went down. [1:21:55] Today you can buy a chess engine for your laptop that will beat Deep Blue quite easily."

Kasparov concedes that he would not stand a chance against today's computer. He says [1:22.25]: "The problems that humans are facing is that we are not consistent, we cannot play under great pressure. Our games are marked by good and bad moves – not blunders, just inaccuracies. They remain unnoticed in human chess, but are very damaging when you are facing a machine." He has a very interesting analogy: 90% accuracy is good enough for translating a news article, but 90% accuracy for driving a car, or even 99%, is a bad day on the road.

So competing with computers in chess is "about our ability to play high-quality moves for many hours. Human psychology works against us. If I have a computer, even a very weak one, at my side, the tables could be turned, and I or some strong GM would be able to beat a very powerful computer, because I can guide the machine and definitely eliminate blunders, the very root of human weakness when facing the computer. That is why I am promoting the idea of combining our forces."

Kasparov is referring to Advanced and Freestyle Chess, where humans are allowed to use computers during their games, a form of play he invented and promoted. "The future belongs to human and computer cooperation," he believes, "man plus machine decision making. We are entering a new era, and there is nothing definite about it – the outcome is not already decided. In the last few decades we have moved from utopian sci-fi to dystopian sci-fi, with machines like the Matrix and Terminator. It could be, but it very much depends on us, on our attitude and our ability to come up with new ideas. It's up to us to prove that we are not redundant."

Listen to the entire interview (or parts that are of interest to you) on Sam Harris' podcast page.

Sam Harris is an American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist, host of the podcast Waking Up with Sam Harris. He is a harsh critic of organized religion, and his books The End of Faith (2004) and Letter to a Christian Nation (2006) are international bestsellers. Harris has also worked on the basis of morals in the understanding of human well-being, and on Spirituality Without Religion (title of a 2014 book). There are countless lectures and debates with him on YouTube, all extremely well worth watching. And you should regularly visit his web site and newspage which currently has almost sixty podcasts like the one above.

Garry Kasparov's Oxford lecture on human performance and artificial intelligence:

Also: Watch this recent Fox News interview with Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov

Born on April 13th 1963, Garry Kasparov was the 13th World Champion in the history of chess.

The young Kasparov followed the typical route for talented young Soviet players through the famous Botvinnik school and lived until 1990 in the Azerbaijani city of Baku, where he was born. When things became too dangerous for him there because of political unrest, he moved in 1990 to Moscow and took Russian nationality.

From 1.1.1984 until his retirement in 2005 Kasparov was almost uninterruptedly the number one in the world ranking list, and even his rivals would describe him as the player with the most universal understanding of chess of all time. With his dynamic style, Kasparov had an epoch-making influence on the development of tournament chess at the end of the 20th century. The basis of his exceptional position in chess was extraordinary talent combined with hard work, enormous will-power and a boundless memory. He himself once characterised his style as "a combination of Alekhine, Tal and Fischer".

Kasparov won most of the competitions in which he took part. With his series of victories in 1999 he built up a lead of 80 points in the Elo list; the rating of 2851 which, until the advent of Magnus Carlsen, had never been equalled, despite Elo inflation. Kasparov also set the standard as an author of chess books, with the greatest attention being earned by his series on the world chess champions "My Great Predecessors".

Order these very popular Kasparov's DVDs in the ChessBase Shop

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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ChessKnightOwl ChessKnightOwl 12/31/2016 04:47
There is simply nothing that science (or philosophy) can come up with that refutes the notion of a God behind that very science. In fact, it is a fallacy to say that science refutes or discredits the notion of a supreme being. It may be that science refutes or discredits a person’s mistaken view of who they think God is or how he acts.

The most that can be said from an anti-theistic position is, “Given the knowledge that I believe I possess, and with the limitations of human knowledge (including that possibility that I may be influenced or deceived), and my presuppositions and predispositions, it seems unlikely to me that there is a supreme being (or any other trans-empirical phenomenon).” Even so, it must be admitted that it is logically possible for a supreme being intentionally to work in unlikely ways. This is the perspective of at least two major world religions.

Marilyn vos Savant--possessing one of the highest IQ scores in history--wrote that both theism and atheism are both logically possible. Our presuppositions determine our thinking in both cases. Science has not “proved” anything about the existence or non-existence of God. Both equally are faith systems—despite the fact that many atheistic scientists are in denial on this point. See the works of John Lennox, triple doctorate, professor at Oxford.

As for evidence, Biblical prophecy, one notable example, the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, is compelling and has never been refuted.
Capa1921 Capa1921 12/30/2016 11:59
Of course we will find Russian propagandists and hackers on a chess site. After all chess is extremely popular in Russia and as the FTB trolls English sites, ChessBase is a natural.
But as I previously commented to attack Kasparov on this site simply because he sees Trump as a threat to democracy is not remotely relevant to Kasparov the chess genius. Why is A7fecd1676b88 bringing up Kasparov's political beliefs? This is a chess site. The only reason A7fecd1676b88 is bringing up Kasparov's politics is because as a FTB(Russian Secret Police) agent he is paid to troll and distribute political attacks and misinformation. Exactly as he is doing here in ChessBase. Kasparov's politics or Sam Harris's politics for that matter simply are not relevant when discussing chess matters. Just as it wasn't relevant that Botvinnik was a communist, except to the KGB!
tyhjyydesta tyhjyydesta 12/30/2016 11:02

And you have no evidence that I don't know what I am talking about and aside for your arrogant self claiming superiority rhetoric you didn't bother to provide any argument as to backup your claims on Harris or that of supporting Trump is a sign of intellectual inferiority (despite the fact that most intellectuals - including philosophers and people with highest achieved education) are / were actually against Trump. It would appear that for anyone to arrive to a different conclusion than you is in your view simply a sing of intellectual inferiority on their part. A very "classy" and "intellectually refreshing" worldview.

PS: if your input to the debate was an attempt at trolling (as that would appear to be the most logical explanation) - it was not a particularly good one. Happy holidays.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 12/30/2016 09:49
@tyhjyydesta - You have no idea what you are talking about.
tyhjyydesta tyhjyydesta 12/30/2016 07:15

Well, I think you have full explanation of your objections in the blog by Sam Harris to which I provided a link. Therefore it's not me who has anything to add to it but instead the challenge lies upon you if you wish to refute his arguments. So far you haven't produced anything new or insightful on this matter - anything which would require a reaction or what has not been already addressed by Harris. If Harris is such a weak thinker as you suggest, it should be very easy for you to provide some flaw of logic in his reaction. So please go ahead and enlighten me - otherwise I may just as well suppose your criticism is based on misunderstanding of what Harris is saying.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 12/30/2016 05:20
@tyhjyydesta --Take a course in logic.

"there is really no sensible argument that can be made contrary to the fact that morality has a lot to do with well being of sentient beings."
You are just as intellectually weak as Harris. Harris is trying to sell books and is a hack. What is your excuse?
The definition of morality you have given is just that. A definition. It must be assumed, it is not known a priori. Learn the difference between a definition, and a fact.

tyhjyydesta tyhjyydesta 12/30/2016 03:21
Well if after reading Sam Harris'es reaction to the critique:


you came to conclusion that he is an "intellectual lightweight at best" than that is your opinion at best. As far as I am concerned - when dealing with the core premise of the book - there is really no sensible argument that can be made contrary to the fact that morality has a lot to do with well being of sentient beings. It seems to me quite plausible some of the controversy might be (potentially ?) caused by inability of (some of the) philosophers to think outside of their "classical" philosophical framework.

But anyway: I am quite surprised as seeing someone speaking against Trump (as in case of Kasparov) will make that person intellectually inferior in your view then why did you need to come up with the "Moral landscape" argument at all in order to claim Harris intellectually inferior as well ? You could hardly find an intellectual more publicly outspoken against Trump as Sam Harris. He dedicated many of his podcasts explaining why he considers him a dangerous man and a shallow thinker. And unlike you (claiming that simply speaking against Trump disqualifies one from being an intellectual - without any additional arguments - as some sort of obvious fact) he also provided lot's of arguments for his statements.

Needless to say that I also consider Trump a shallow thinker and am therefore more inclined to claim his supporters much more likely to be shallow thinkers as well than those opposing to him. (i.e.: I hardly know any public intellectuals that would be supporting Trump but know many who speak against him) Yet at the same time I wouldn't claim all Trump supporters are shallow thinkers or that being a Trump supporter automatically implies being a shallow thinker (only that it's much more likely).
BarOni BarOni 12/30/2016 02:11
@A7fecd1676b88. Maybe you went tto much? You start to be annoying with your so called 'criticism'. You passed the good taste already.
Whether you like it or not Sam is a brilliant ingenious person. And I am saying it after listening to dozens of his lectures. Having said that, he clearly has logic fallacies in his head just like every atheist has. Atheists when they deal with religion they can't immerse themselves in the mindset of the religious. All of their arguments are coming from the secular perspective. This is true with Richard Dawkins, Krause etc. I hear plenty of llogically flawed arguments. But again, among lliberal Sam is on the good side of the map not on the bad one. The guy has a brain. A good one that works unlike most liberals of today.
benedictralph benedictralph 12/30/2016 03:44

"You might learn to read, and after that, you might take a course in logic."

Let's just add ad hominem to your list of fallacies as well.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 12/30/2016 03:12
You might learn to read, and after that, you might take a course in logic.

I do not commit any fallacy, because I do not appeal to the masses as you indicate. I merely point out that Harris's blunder was well known. (Even if it was not, it would still be a blunder.) I mention this notoriety, not because it is an argument. NO. I mention it to illustrate he does possess the intellectual honesty to admit a mistake. He is an intellectual non-entity.
benedictralph benedictralph 12/30/2016 02:32

"What is even worse is that after his logical fallacy was mentioned by basically the whole internet, Harris STILL maintained his thesis"

It is ironic that after you accuse Sam Harris of committing the "is vs ought" fallacy, you commit argumentum ad populum yourself.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 12/30/2016 02:24
Capa1921 --"The negative comments registered here are pure Russian politics and have nothing to do with a great intellectually stimulating interview."

Why do you say that? Harris's book "The Moral Landscape" was roundly criticized for being philosophically wrong. (He committed the very well known is vs ought fallacy.) What is even worse is that after his logical fallacy was mentioned by basically the whole internet, Harris STILL maintained his thesis...He is an intellectual lightweight at best, and an intellectual poseur at worst.
benedictralph benedictralph 12/30/2016 01:48
Here is an article about why Sam Harris may be wrong about AI. So Kasparov is probably right.

Capa1921 Capa1921 12/30/2016 01:40
It is amusing to read the clearly Russian responses to Sam Harris' interview with Kasparov. Their attack on both is really off the wall. Their bias is so evident that it is apparent they are the same Russian hackers that recently attacked the United States. To call Sam Harris PhD stupid and ignorant and then to accuse him of being a right wing nut shows that the writer doesn't understand United States politics. He is very, very liberal not a right wing conservative. Then to attack Kasparov as a chess player really shows they are simply acting under the orders of the FSB(Russian Secret Police). So bottom line the Harris interview is extremely interesting. The negative comments registered here are pure Russian politics and have nothing to do with a great intellectually stimulating interview.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 12/29/2016 11:24
Chess, mathematics, and music are certainly not simple, and clearly more difficult than novel writing and political debates. Harris misunderstands why there are child prodigies in the former and not the latter.
MarbleRock MarbleRock 12/29/2016 10:57
Please do not listen to the critics saying this post should not be published at all. As long as Kasparov is involved and there is some amount of chess discussion, this is chess news.
Exabachay Exabachay 12/29/2016 10:23
It's quite an achievement for two guys to talk so much but say nothing at the same time.
NiceChappie NiceChappie 12/29/2016 03:00
@J Nayer "Do you guys even know who Sam Harris is?"
Clearly better than you do, sunshine.
"This is a chess site. Keep your right wing bullshit out of it or I am gone."
Didn't realise you were the moderator on this site.
Bye bye.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 12/29/2016 02:28
Sam Harris has shown himself to be an a lightweight thinker with poor works such as the moral landscape. Kasparov has shown his prowess does not extend with beyond the chessboard with his comments against Trump.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 12/29/2016 02:25
English is not even his second language. I am not sure about the first (Armenian or Hebrew), but the third is Russian and English is only at least fourth.
J Nayer J Nayer 12/29/2016 01:34

Do you guys even know who Sam Harris is?

This is a chess site. Keep your right wing bullshit out of it or I am gone. Speaking to others, it seems I'm not the only one.
NiceChappie NiceChappie 12/29/2016 12:49
Hardly the time or place to conduct a discussion of this nature, is it?
Although I'm not sure what is confusing about what I wrote. I've read both Harris and particularly Dawkins, and stand by my characterization of their views.
If they are against anything, then it is irrationalism, which I fully endorse.

BarOni BarOni 12/29/2016 12:34
@amarpan. Just because he lost to Karamnik in the late period of his carrier after 15 years of championship that doesn't mean Karamnik is better. Always there is a point when the older lose to a younger. Capablanka lost his title Karpov lost and even Karamnik lost to Anand so does that mean Anan is better than Karamnik? ??
Also just the fact that someone lost one match to a person that doesn't mean he is necessarily weaker. Based on your view then Fischer is equal to Rashevsky and weaker than Tal, Kapa weaker than Alakhin Both weaker than Oiva . Karamnik weaker than Anand stronger than Kaspa????
Measuring players doesn't go based on one obscure match that one lost in the edgtof his carrier nor is it measured by just wining or losing.
The reason Asparov is considered the best is because of his pure strength measured by his play , his dominance , his outperform of his peers his highest rating at the time etc.
melomaniak melomaniak 12/29/2016 11:28
I will forever regret that IBM did not grant a rematch. I think the Deeper Blue that beat Kasparov was of lower overall strength and if only K. had had more games against it and played real chess not anti-computer chess he would have won. Sure, the next version of Deeper Blue may have won but I think it's a shame that as it stands Kasparov lost to a machine of inferior strength due to corporate politics.
MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs 12/29/2016 11:09
That's twisted the way around and confusing. Being against religious faith - having religion with or without a social and/or political hierarchy - is by all means being against concept of a divine entity, as religion presents and teaches the divine and its implications. In your words "[]...against the entire concept of a divine entity" would make you precisely an atheist.
What Dawkins is and Hitchens were, is anti-theist: not only nonbelievers in any sort of superior being, you may or may not call god, but extremely disapproving and accusatory to the religious belief in itself in the extent they argue religion to be a cancer they would gladly get rid of. Therefore they vehemently attack any and all religions survived our time wishing to clean the human thoughts from them, starting from Hebraism (which would take care of Christianity as well), Islamism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.
amarpan amarpan 12/29/2016 08:23
Kasparov not only lost to a computer, but a human as well. He lost to Kramnik. This fact somehow gets pushed under the rug in all articles that eulogize Kasparov, and is not fair to the only player who managed to beat him.
NiceChappie NiceChappie 12/29/2016 08:10
Garry is on sparkling form in a fascinating, wide-ranging discussion - well worth listening to, unless your name is Vladimir Putin.
PS: Harris is an atheist in the Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchins mode; he's not just against "organised" religion but against the entire concept of a divine entity.