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Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins- Review

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Title: Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends And Human Creativity Begins

Author: Garry Kasparov

Publisher: John Murray/Hachette


Pages: 288; Price: Rs 599

Flashback to May 12, 1997.The entire world was watching as Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion was playing Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer. It looked nothing less than a sci-fi movie with the man versus machine scenario. Not to forget this was twenty years back, so smart phones and digital dependency was still limited. Barring the IBM team everyone else was perhaps rooting for Garry Kasparov, for the sheer reason that he was after all the “human factor”.

Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) had won over the human factor. Newspaper articles from back then had photographs of Kasparov holding his head in his hands as he looked absolutely flabbergasted by the defeat. The scene from post-match had turned ugly as Kasparov had stormed off and accused IBM of being unfair in designing the high-speed computer just to beat him. He even suggested that Deep Blue, was being coached by the IBM team during the match.

For the audience witnessing the battle, it was almost as if all of a sudden the prophecies made by the sci-fi movies depicting apocalyptic endings with machines ruling the humans seemed more plausible. But there is a background story to the Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov clash. In fact the 1997 clash was a rematch of 1996 battle. In the 1996 clash Kasparov had defeated Deep Blue and for an entire year top notch programmers were working alongside chess experts to improve Deep Blue. They revamped the supercomputer for the rematch by doubling its ability to search through millions of possibilities for the strongest move. The new Deep Blue version came with the ability to scan 200 million moves in a second and if that was not enough, it could think 74 moves ahead. And if you compare that with human chess masters, they could think roughly around 10 moves ahead.

With the book, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends And Human Creativity Begins, Garry Kasparov seems to have finally made peace with Deep Blue as he provides his side of the story and shares his experience of battling with a tireless machine. The author wrote, “I’ve had twenty years to come up with a good way to describe what it’s like for a world champion chess player to play against a world-champion-level chess machine. I’m still not sure I’ve succeeded. Directly competing against a computer at the highest level of a human discipline is a unique experience.”

The book is both engaging and insightful in its approach to a topic that is as real time as it could be. While AI is seen for its exceptional abilities, it is also looked at as a threat to human workforce becoming redundant. It is a current reality that computers are taking away jobs from humans. Interestingly, Kasparov has taken a very optimistic stance on AI in this book as he has talked about the possibilities where humans and machines cohabit symbiotically with each other rather than against each other.

There are times when the reader might feel the challenge that Kasparov might have faced while writing this book as it took him back to 1997, again and again, as he mentions, “I am a sore loser… I have been annoyed to discover that I missed a good move in a game I lost twenty years ago when analyzing for the book.”