Deep Thinking gives a very fresh perspective on AI, a technology that has become the hotbed of innovation today.
In May 1997, while I was still in primary school, legendary chess champion Garry Kasparov was battling a supercomputer called Deep Blue in a match. The reputation of IBM, which owned Deep Blue, was at stake—it had poured in millions of dollars for Deep Blue despite great financial instability. For Kasparov, it was about maintaining his dominance in the world of chess. The chess champion, however, went on to lose the match in the final game. The final score read 3½-2½ in favour of Deep Blue. For many, it was just a difference of a point, but for Kasparov, it was a loss that took him almost two decades to make peace with.
In his latest book, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins, Kasparov gives a detailed account of what it felt like to lose to an artificial brain and how artificial intelligence (AI) is not a precursor to doomsday, as touted by a majority today. If chess fans pick up this book thinking it to be primarily about chess, they will be in for some disappointment, as this engrossing read majorly deals with the promise of AI, how it trickled into the technological space and what’s the future ahead.
Deep Thinking gives a very fresh perspective on AI, a technology that has become the hotbed of innovation today. The question of whether robots will take up all jobs is upmost on everyone’s mind. The answer, as per Kasparov, is no. “Romanticising the loss of jobs to technology is little better than complaining that antibiotics put too many gravediggers out of work,” he writes.
The arguments and opinions that he puts forth stem from his own battle of coming to terms with the fact that a machine beat him at chess. It wasn’t the first time that Kasparov was facing a machine. The 1997 battle was, in fact, a rematch of a 1996 six-game match against Deep Blue that Kasparov had won 4-2. Before that, too, he played innumerable matches with parallel computing systems, such as Fritz, a German chess programme that had defeated an older version of Deep Blue.
Another aspect that’s not discussed is IBM’s role in the 1997 match, which it organised. A lot of people, including Kasparov, believe that IBM tipped the game in favour of the machine to get back its financial footing. After losing, Kasparov demanded a rematch, but IBM refused. Kasparov was left sitting with his head in his hands. It was this image that took such a long time to fade from his memory, he says. It is this honesty as a player, writer and human that makes this book worthy of a place on your shelf.