This Day in History: Supercomputer Deep Blue defeats chess champ Gary Kasparov

This Day in History: Supercomputer Deep Blue defeats chess champ Gary Kasparov

20 years ago in man vs. machine, a landmark battle was won by IBM

19 years ago today, a computer did what was widely thought impossible: Beat a Chess Grandmaster. It's interesting to look back at one of the defining moments in AI, and to see how far technology has come.

Then, the New York Times heralded the moment: Swift and Slashing, Computer Topples Kasparov

 

In brisk and brutal fashion, the I.B.M. computer Deep Blue unseated humanity, at least temporarily, as the finest chess playing entity on the planet yesterday, when Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion, resigned the sixth and final game of the match after just 19 moves, saying, ''I lost my fighting spirit.''

The unexpectedly swift denouement to the bitterly fought contest came as a surprise, because until yesterday Mr. Kasparov had been able to summon the wherewithal to match Deep Blue gambit for gambit.

The manner of the conclusion overshadowed the debate over the meaning of the computer's success. Grandmasters and computer experts alike went from praising the match as a great experiment, invaluable to both science and chess (if a temporary blow to the collective ego of the human race) to smacking their foreheads in amazement at the champion's abrupt crumpling.

Now, it seems almost inevitable that such achievements will take place, it's just a matter of when. And IBM has continued aggressively investing in the space, although now with a more focused agenda, as their recent healthcare acquisitions have shown.

Pictured above is the mouse used to manage Deep Blue during that fateful showdown, courtesy of the Smithsonian.

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