Saturday, April 5, 2014

Man v/s Machine


 The idea of deciding the pedagogue between man and machine remains dubious to some individuals yet. It is not that people have never pondered over the idea, but they cannot precisely come to a conclusion. How can one decide which one of the two is better off? Can a human stand a face off with a computer in what the computer is best at? Maybe few of us have thought in that direction, haven’t we? Coming to what the computer is best at, I say fast computation of problems! What better than to test the wits of man against machine in the most complex yet beautiful computations of science, war and the art of analysis, chess.

Consider the complexity of the problem, how fast can human brain branch out all the various combinations as compared to a computer. Say you have 10 options to choose from to play, and your opponent has 10 counter moves to each of your 10 moves, in turn you have 10 more counter moves to each of your opponent’s move, thus running into an exponential complexity. Ever wondered how can human stand to this fast computation of the machine? Well fortunately it has been displayed to the entire world by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997 and 1998, against IBM’s Deep Blue. The idea of this exhibition match for Kasparov was to prove it’s just another ‘stupid machine’, and for the IBM’s programmers it was a challenge to show the world, the power of computers.



Both matches in 1997 and 1998 consisted of 6 games each. And the results of which contradict each other to a large extent. Kasparov royally won the match leading by 2 whole points that year. But the interesting part starts in the rematch held in 1998, where he lost by 1 entire point. Some say he was psychologically broken down by his defeat in game 2 of the rematch. What was so vital that took place in game 2? Critics and many chess enthusiasts around the world believe that the crucial move the Deep Blue made was not so ‘computer-like’ but contrary to it, it was ‘human-like’. So did the IBM programming team actually build a computer as smart the human mind?  The rematch held in 1998 was titled as “the most spectacular chess event in history”.
Game over is a documentary on the Match between Kasparov and Deep Blue
In the 1990s, it was clear that computer chess was reaching an important inflection point. Deep Blue was a processing monster. Deep Blue was capable of evaluating around 200 million positions each second. In addition, several grandmasters were involved in the evolution of Deep Blue's evaluation functions. Fifteen years later, one of Blue’s designers says the move was the result of a bug in Deep Blue’s software. Even though humans can conceive of strategies to counteract the computation advantage of computers, we get tired, make blunders, and suffer from anxiety. Machines never get tired or flustered.

Human psychology plays an important role against a head on collision with computers or as a matter of fact any competition with a computer. The frame of mind in which a human is, is not constant and changes as a reaction to other actions in society. Man is a social animal, but a computer does what it is programmed to do, what the man exactly asks it to do. So man v/s machine? Just another angle from where you can think on this topic, yet again.