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man v computer

For some reason this keeps fascinating people: Kasparov will play with Deep Junior (link from Wired news). Personally, I've never been impressed with these "human-machine" matches. Chess is simply a game of branching. Creativity in chess only counts if you can't calculate moves far ahead enough. Even if the computer doesn't win now, it is (quite literally) a mathematical certainty that it will beat every human player in the next few years. So what's the interest?

Now, if a computer could defeat a Go master, that would be interesting... Go is similar to Chess in that you need good "branching" skills, but the game at the beginning is completely unstructured, and very structured at the end--totally the opposite of chess. Additionally, while the number of possible moves in Chess is 2^64 and the number of possible games is 10^450, the number of possible "moves" (between quotes since Go doesn't really have "moves" per se) in Go is more than 2-to-the-260 and the number of possible games more than 10^750 (here is an article from the SPEC benchmark group that discusses these numbers and has more information). We'll probably get to the point where, like in Chess, machines will invariably win, but with Go humans are for the moment the indisputed masters. Good for us! Computers one, Primates one.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on January 23 2003 at 10:32 PM

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