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Magnus Bill.
January 28, 2014 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Bill Gates loses a chess match in 79 seconds to the new World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.
posted by feelinglistless (92 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
that guy's not getting a job
posted by philip-random at 9:26 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Quite the opposite, I suspect Bill would consider someone beating him at chess an indication they are hire material.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:28 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Why would that be a surprise? I bet he also can't play piano like a concert musician, or beat an NBA player in one-on-one.
posted by thelonius at 9:29 AM on January 28 [30 favorites]


You know it's a sensational video when the players' faces get more camera time than the chessboard.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:30 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


This is...what? I mean, is Bill Gates supposed to be good at chess or something? It's like a headline that says "22 year old musical prodigy writes better symphony than Picasso."
posted by phunniemee at 9:30 AM on January 28 [18 favorites]


I can't believe we picked Bill Gates for this!
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:30 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


To be fair, I would also watch Bill Gates play Lebron 1 on 1.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:30 AM on January 28 [35 favorites]


If this were the old Bill Gates, he would have already bought the rights to the chess pieces and charged the guy to play.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:31 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I bet he also can't play piano like a concert musician, or beat an NBA player in one-on-one.

I would watch that reality show.
posted by elizardbits at 9:31 AM on January 28 [11 favorites]


This guy could never be considered hiring material.

I guess this one wouldn't, either.
posted by Riton at 9:31 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


But would he beat Gates at bridge?
posted by IndigoJones at 9:31 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Isn't the bigger story here that in Scandinavian, they play chess on talkshows?
posted by gwint at 9:32 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Bill Gates completes chess match against grandmaster Magnus Carlsen in 79 seconds!
posted by lostburner at 9:32 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Pshaw. I could last longer than that against Carlsen.

the trick is waiting longer before you move
posted by Flunkie at 9:32 AM on January 28 [19 favorites]


Gates is a bridge player. It would be more interesting, if you were some kind of Gates-watcher, to see him play speed bridge with the bridge world champion.

But, people have this totally non-factual belief that all smart people are good chess players, so there you are.
posted by thelonius at 9:32 AM on January 28 [15 favorites]


Isn't the bigger story here that in Scandinavian, they play chess on talkshows?

Such worlds there are before you...
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:33 AM on January 28


He's good at a few things so he must be good at everything!
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:33 AM on January 28


The objections here seem kind of weird. I don't think anyone going into this thought that Gates was going to be competitive. It's not "OMG BILL GATES LOST!"; it's "Look how very, very bad the vast majority of chess players are at chess".
posted by Flunkie at 9:35 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but just wait til Carlsen reads the fine print and realizes that not only has he forfeited his appearance fee by beating Bill, he now must donate 5% of his gross income for the next three years to the Gates Foundation.
posted by jamjam at 9:37 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I have to say that was a pretty poor showing from Bill Gates. Maybe being on TV made him nervous or he hadn't played in an extremely long time (no speakers on this computer so can't hear the audio, maybe he gave himself some outs), but I'm pretty sure the worst player on my elementary school chess team would have beaten him in pretty much the same way.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:39 AM on January 28


Flunkie: "The objections here seem kind of weird. I don't think anyone going into this thought that Gates was going to be competitive. It's not "OMG BILL GATES LOST!"; it's "Look how very, very bad the vast majority of chess players are at chess"."

Well, except the fact that it's Bill Gates wouldn't be interesting except for that the fact that we think of chess ability (wrongly) as a metonym for intelligence in general.
posted by invitapriore at 9:40 AM on January 28


What an interesting match-- you can see that Gates has 2 minutes worth of time on his clock, and Carlsen has only 30 seconds worth of time.

When you play speed chess, cranked up to this extreme, the entire goal of the match is to think on the other person's clock, and once they've moved and hit their clock, you make your move and hit your clock, forcing your opponent to think on their time (and giving you time to think as well).

You can see Carlsen doing this, although obviously as the world champion he has his moves planned well in advance. For Gates to have had any shot at winning (note I'm not saying "beating Carlsen" because Carlsen running out of time wouldn't have been notable), he would have had to play *completely* unorthodox, to try to get Carlsen to spend at least one or two seconds per move thinking.

The other interesting piece of this match is seeing how completely aggressive Carlsen is. You can *see it coming* and I bet Gates just felt totally powerless trying to defend, that's why he started smiling and laughing (sidenote: this brings out a really interesting side of Gates-- what happens when he *knows* he's getting beaten?). It's amazing that in only a few short moves Carlsen can put what looks like a tidal wave worth of pressure on one side of the board against what looks like, on the face of it, a normal defense.
posted by mark242 at 9:43 AM on January 28 [8 favorites]


This guy could never be considered hiring material.

Wow he's got a grandmaster-level pout too
posted by stinkfoot at 9:43 AM on January 28


I'm pretty sure anyone who has played and studied chess knew Gates lost on his third move when he posts his Bishop behind the king pawn. Basically when you're playing speed chess against someone who has studied their king pawn openings, you better have studied too. Clearly Bill has not—because he has better things to do like running one of the worlds largest charities and chairing the board of one of the worlds largest software companies and being a father and collecting super cars. I admit, if I had those distractions, my game would slip too. This setup exploits a common misconception that equates being good at chess with being intelligent. Like anything, being good at chess is mostly about study and practice. It helps to have innate ability and certain personality characteristics, but pretty much anyone can play at a high level through sheer determination and commitment.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:45 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


You know who did a lot better than this against a World Chess Champion? Sting.

But you can hear Sting's dark squared bishop: "For the love of God, Montressor!"
posted by thelonius at 9:46 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


But, people have this totally non-factual belief that all smart people are good chess players, so there you are.

Apparently also that being good at chess = good guy to hire to do....something
posted by Hoopo at 9:47 AM on January 28


There was a vogue for hiring chess GMs in some parts of the finance world. That's what happened to most of the generation of strong US players who came up in the 80's.
posted by thelonius at 9:53 AM on January 28


Derren Brown plays 9 expert chess players simultaneously.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:55 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Pathetic, I could lose a lot faster than that!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:57 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


jeffamaphone: "I'm pretty sure anyone who has played and studied chess knew Gates lost on his third move when he posts his Bishop behind the king pawn."

Bear in mind that I've got no sound on this machine and haven't played chess in years, but from where I'm sitting, that move is exactly when Carlsen stops thinking and just moving and whacking the timer. And that's when Gates relaxes and starts laughing. They both know it's over. Carlsen stacks his pieces up in anticipation of any defense Gates might come up with but, yeah, at that point one can tell the game is clearly over by body language alone.

Gates actually comes off fairly well in my estimation. Carlsen was concerned that Gates would think his way out of the trap and layers his offense accordingly. He wasn't treated as a total pushover, IOW. Whether that was necessary or not, I'm in no place to tell.

Fun to watch.
posted by stet at 10:01 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I'd much rather have the skills to build a machine to beat anyone at chess than devote my life to the atavistic skill of beating people at chess myself. Machines should work; people should think. Chess is not meaningful thinking.
posted by Nelson at 10:01 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I dunno, my stereotype of a chess prodigy is a paranoid anti-semite. Maybe I've been watching the wrong movies.
posted by benzenedream at 10:04 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I watched this a few days ago and thought it would be fun to watch a tv show where ordinary people play Carlsen, with a prize given to the person who forces Carlsen to make the most moves before he checkmates them.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:05 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


He wasn't treated as a total pushover, IOW. Whether that was necessary or not, I'm in no place to tell.

One of the basic guidelines I've read over and over in chess books is to always make good, sound moves whether your opponent does or not. Unpredictable players will still lose to proper play, but they will occasionally get lucky if you slack off and just attack. Chess is also about discipline.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:08 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure anyone who has played and studied chess knew Gates lost on his third move when he posts his Bishop behind the king pawn.
3.Bd3 isn't a great move but it's certainly not losing. In fact it's a pretty decent move when your opponent has 30 seconds for the whole game because he's likely to use up a few seconds just getting his bearings. There's a similar idea in the Sicilian called the Kopec System, where White plays e4, Bd3, c3 and Bc2.
posted by dfan at 10:09 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


MuffinMan: the only astonishing thing about that feat of Derren's was that the chess players were ignorant of how it was done.
posted by edd at 10:12 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Right, it's not a blunder, but it's much harder to put up a good fight than, say, Bc4. I pretty much stick to Caro-Kann as black; the last book I read on the Sicilian was probably over 15 years ago, so I'm not familiar.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:13 AM on January 28


Chess is not meaningful thinking.
On the contrary! Chess literally is meaning-full. One of the things I love about chess is that, like music, it has deep meaning that exists in its own context and can't be simply translated into the world of language. Go look at a beautiful endgame study and then tell me that there's no meaning there.
Right, it's not a blunder, but it's much harder to put up a good fight than, say, Bc4.
Well, Bc4 would be a blunder because Black had a pawn on d5, but agreed, Bd3 wasn't a great move.
posted by dfan at 10:16 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Chess is a stock Mac OSX app. Gates should challenge the world champion solitaire or minesweeper player.
posted by birdherder at 10:17 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


What he needed was to free up some of his conventional chess playing memory using QEMM so he could run a TSR program to help him.
posted by srboisvert at 10:18 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Saw this yesterday. I think it was great. Not that it was surprising for Gates to lose, or that it should be embarrassing for him or anything. Just a cool reminder that the titans of this world are as varied and variable as the foot soldiers.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:21 AM on January 28


Chess literally is meaning-full.

OK, I won't shit on the thing you love. I'd agree 100% with everything you say only about Go instead of Chess. The fact that Chess can be brute-forced by relatively stupid software just makes the whole enterprise seem profoundly uninteresting to me. I'll feel the same about Go too, once it's cracked, and already Go software is way better than I'll ever be.
posted by Nelson at 10:21 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I think Gates should have gotten more than 2 minutes. Two minutes is hard for anyone under expert strength. ( Not that he would have lasted any longer if he played the same way. )
If I had white against a player with 30 seconds I certainly wouldn't open with e4.
posted by MtDewd at 10:22 AM on January 28


The fact that Chess can be brute-forced by relatively stupid software just makes the whole enterprise seem profoundly uninteresting to me

Care to elaborate?
posted by cell divide at 10:26 AM on January 28


It's not that it was necessarily a bad move, it's just the move where Carlsen knew exactly how he was going to beat Gates. Prior to Gates making that move, Carlsen was thinking about what he was going to do. After, the only reason he was burning time was because he physically needed to move the pieces and punch the clock.

Again, this is just body language on the part of both players.
posted by stet at 10:26 AM on January 28


Isn't the bigger story here that in Scandinavian, they play chess on talkshows?

This only happened because all of Norway got Carlsen Fever when it became apparent he was going to rank very highly in the 2013 WCC. I'm certain Carlsen is the first, and possibly last, person to ever play chess in a Norwegian talk show.
posted by ymgve at 10:26 AM on January 28


Why do people call a single game of chess a "match"?
posted by thelonius at 10:28 AM on January 28


The fact that Chess can be brute-forced by relatively stupid software just makes the whole enterprise seem profoundly uninteresting to me

Yeah, and the Tour de France is a stupid waste of time these days - don't they realise they could do it wayyyy quicker if they rode in cars instead of on those piddly little bike things.
posted by Ned G at 10:28 AM on January 28 [14 favorites]


Who would expect Gates to windows?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:30 AM on January 28



>The fact that Chess can be brute-forced by relatively stupid software just makes the whole enterprise seem profoundly uninteresting to me

Yeah, and the Tour de France is a stupid waste of time these days - don't they realise they could do it wayyyy quicker if they rode in cars instead of on those piddly little bike things.

Not exactly the same thing. Chess has a finite, known quantity of moves that can be brute forced by a fast enough machine to evaluate all possible moves to end game. The Tour de France has so many variables involved outside of the brain of the cyclist (which would be the only common factor between that and a chess match), from the body obeying the brain, the bike obeying the body, and the road and environment acting on that body and bike, that no machine we have yet built could compete in a Tour de France following its current rules of play.
posted by linux at 10:34 AM on January 28


Chess has a finite, known quantity of moves that can be brute forced by a fast enough machine to evaluate all possible moves to end game.
No physical machine will ever be able to do that. The number of "all possible moves" dwarfs the number of particles in the universe.

Researchers have solved all positions with six or fewer pieces remaining on the board, though (e.g., king rook and pawn vs king rook and pawn) and are working on seven. The combinatorial explosion is really huge, though.
posted by dfan at 10:37 AM on January 28 [8 favorites]


The fact that Chess can be brute-forced by relatively stupid software just makes the whole enterprise seem profoundly uninteresting to me

Given enough processing time and power, every image you could ever see on a display monitor can be brute-forced by relatively stupid software.

Are you bored with watching/seeing TV shows, films or, for that matter, anything in the real world that could be displayed on a screen? Because they can all theoretically be derived by brute force?

I don't understand why the fact chess can theoretically be brute-forced makes it uninteresting.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:41 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


> The fact that Chess can be brute-forced by relatively stupid software just makes the whole enterprise seem profoundly uninteresting to me.

Decent music compositions can be created through brute force as well. You can buy generative music software for your phone for around a dollar. Usually we tend to be more interested in what somebody has to say through music than we are in a random sequence of notes that's filtered to be pleasing to the ears.

Chess, like music, go, and most other pursuits that combine creativity with analysis and response to context, is not purely a puzzle to solve. The environment of chess is kind of opaque to me, but I'm fascinated by reading analyses of matches where people remark on style of play. Brute force has no style, only algorithmic optimizations.
posted by ardgedee at 10:43 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I stand corrected on "all possible moves".

I don't side with the opinion that chess is uninteresting, but that the comparison with a cycling tournament doesn't really make sense. For the record, I know how to play chess and ride a bike and enjoy both activities with friends but I've never followed chess or the Tour de France.

I would say some find chess profoundly uninteresting because we have designed software that can consistently defeat a human player. Fair enough. I'm sure some find cycling profoundly uninteresting, too.

Appreciation of what a human player can do, competing against another human or a machine, lies with the appreciator.
posted by linux at 10:44 AM on January 28


linux: "Not exactly the same thing. Chess has a finite, known quantity of moves that can be brute forced by a fast enough machine to evaluate all possible moves to end game. The Tour de France has so many variables involved outside of the brain of the cyclist (which would be the only common factor between that and a chess match), from the body obeying the brain, the bike obeying the body, and the road and environment acting on that body and bike, that no machine we have yet built could compete in a Tour de France following its current rules of play."

You're missing the point. Saying that chess is made uninteresting by the fact that it can be effectively brute-forced by a computer is ignoring the fact that a description of a set of moves and the experience of same are not freely substitutable. It's understandable why one might think that a simple game like Tic-Tac-Toe is made boring by the fact that it's solved,* but in part that's because a description of the solution is simple enough that a human can hold the entirety of it in their head. Chess is sufficiently expressive to offer an aesthetic experience to the player, even if that player is hopelessly outmatched by a simple exhaustive search.

* This isn't to say that chess is solved, but it's on the same continuum as being amenable to computerized play for the purposes of this discussion, I think.
posted by invitapriore at 10:45 AM on January 28


... or what I wrote above what you posted.
posted by linux at 10:48 AM on January 28


At least he wasn't playing against a drunk unicorn for the fate or the world. I doubt he has a Sasquatch as a tutor.
posted by edgeways at 10:51 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Your comment came up right about when I hit post, but my point still stands that the Tour de France metaphor does everything it needs to in terms of pointing out that the original statement about chess being uninteresting as a result of being now easily automated relies on a fatal over-abstraction of just what it is that "playing chess" consists of.
posted by invitapriore at 10:52 AM on January 28


Guy I used to work with plays a lot of chess - competitive-level stuff. Reads all the books and has been gushing over Carlsen for about the last 7 years.

A contractor we'd hired used to talk all sorts of smack about chess and challenged my buddy to a game over lunch.

Sure, he said.

They set the board up and we had our normal lunchtime conversation, punctuated by occasional moments where my friend would glance over at the board for about 2 seconds, move a piece, and then resume conversation with me. The erstwhile challenger, meanwhile, spent most of the time hunched over the pieces in Deep Thought.

After about 15 minutes of this, my friend announced that the game was largely over, whereupon he showed a series of 4 or 5 moves (and their alternates) that all ended with a checkmate, and that was pretty much that. The other guy resigned the game and we never heard any more smack-talk.

I'd never seen anything like it, though to be sure, I haven't watched much chess played live. I know how to move the pieces and that's about all.
posted by jquinby at 10:52 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


With a worth of $72 billion, a 6% rate of return would earn Gates roughly $114.16 per second.

So Bill Gates made $9,018.64 during those 79 seconds.
posted by foggy out there now at 10:52 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


I watched this a few days ago and thought it would be fun to watch a tv show where ordinary people play Carlsen, with a prize given to the person who forces Carlsen to make the most moves before he checkmates them.

I've probably already mentioned this, but I think that when computers are vastly superior to their current state, before you even make the first move in your chess program you'll see "mate in 274 moves" and then you'll do your best to delay the loss. You'll know you've really screwed up when the "mate in X" number goes way down from one move to the next.
posted by Jpfed at 10:59 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Saying that chess is made uninteresting by the fact that it can be effectively brute-forced by a computer is ignoring the fact that a description of a set of moves and the experience of same are not freely substitutable.

I have a friend who is designing a game, and part of the preliminary work involved asking us, her friends, what made games enjoyable to us. There is the game itself: the pieces, the board, the artwork, the general aesthetic. Then there are the rules, which can have their own beauty, especially when simple rules allow massively complex and varied play. But then we got to the intangibles, the game-within-the-game, or perhaps the "flow" that only becomes obvious to players in the course of playing. Chess has this. Other games, too; particularly where strategy and simulation are involved, where there is back and forth between players who have a shared awareness of play. There is a subtle beauty there that machines cannot now and perhaps may never capture. This is very difficult even for humans to design into a game, which becomes obvious looking at how few games survive attrition and become "standards". It is that intangible element that adds secret sauce to play.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


edgeways, I saw what you did there.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:03 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


WHY IS BILL GATES PLAYING CHESS INSTEAD OF CURING MALARIA?!?!?!?!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:12 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


To be fair, I would also watch Bill Gates play Lebron 1 on 1.

Well, younger Bill Gates was known for his party trick ability to jump a chair.
He's 5' 9" ish, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that he could dunk back then.

So, given that and a good break, he might post at least one point, which honestly, is probably more points than I would post against an NBA player.
posted by madajb at 11:20 AM on January 28


Your comment came up right about when I hit post, but my point still stands that the Tour de France metaphor does everything it needs to in terms of pointing out that the original point about chess being uninteresting as a result of being now easily automated relies on a fatal over-abstraction of just what it is that "playing chess" consists of.

The cycling example didn't work for me because right now there is no computer competing in the Tour de France.

Maybe if the comparison were with poker, a game a brute force program can play but is not consistent due to the level of interaction among players. Even if poker was cracked some may argue it's still a very human sort of game... then you could say that chess is also a very human game when machines aren't involved because the styles of play are what make chess interesting, not that it can or cannot be solved by machine.

Following argedee's point about music: many complain of the loss of soul in modern music because of a lack of flaws in the composition. With autotune and digital manipulation you lose the cracked voice or the flub on the guitar that too many make a song more beautiful than the perfect performance a computer can provide. There you have an example of a puzzle that is solved yet many aren't happy with that consistent solution (at which point some crazy programmer's gonna write software that attempts to emulate flaws... trippy).
posted by linux at 11:22 AM on January 28


Man, reminds me of that time I schooled Gates in Monopoly. I was riding him the entire time: PARK PLACE, MOTHERF------! IT BURNS, DOESN'T IT BILL?!? IT BURNS LIKE MALARIA! HOW'S THE MONOPOLY ON THE OTHER FOOT, B----?!? We'd been slamming kamikazes, I don't usually game like that. He was really nice about it until the end of the evening when his guys threw me in Lake Washington...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:27 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


The cycling example didn't work for me because right now there is no computer competing in the Tour de France.

How many computers compete in the average chess tournement? How many motorcylces compete in the Tour de France?
posted by Green With You at 11:31 AM on January 28


edgeways, I saw what you did there.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:03 PM on January 28


cheers.

Just read it the other night so it was fresh in my mind.
posted by edgeways at 11:34 AM on January 28


How many computers compete in the average chess tournement? How many motorcylces compete in the Tour de France?

This was about Nelson's comment on chess being solved by brute force programs so, yeah, I didn't find the cycling comparison compelling.
posted by linux at 11:35 AM on January 28


Nelson lost interest in A Thing because a Simple Machine could beat an unassisted person at it which is what the comparison is for. The fact that one machine is a computer and the other is a motorcycle isn't really material. The real question is: if a computer ever reliably passes the Touring test will Nelson find human interaction uninteresting as well? Why or why not?
posted by Green With You at 11:56 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Heya, I made the original chess/cycling comment, and as people are still discussing it, I'd like to clarify a few things:

First of all, the comment was a bit of a flippant one liner. I realise that the two things aren't exactly analagous, and I wasn't trying to make any deep or meaningful claims about the similarities or lack thereof between bikes and board games.

What I was trying to say, is that I don't think that a technological solution to something should diminish the enjoyment of doing it the old fashioned way (if it's a thing that people do for entertainment, if it's washing dishes, then hell yeah embrace the machines). I enjoy playing chess. I enjoy riding my bike. Seeing people spending their whole lives devoted to getting insanely good at a tiny corner of human existence that I'm into is nice. It's nice because I can empathise with them to a certain extent, and because it informs me of what the limits of achievement are. Just watching someone doing something really well is satisfying (there was a ten minute video of someone preparing a chicken on here the other day, which I really enjoyed).

So yeah, I can see that chess and biking are different, but I don't see why getting caught up in the number of possible states of each system makes a difference to how much fun it is to watch.

Sorry about the derail people.
posted by Ned G at 11:58 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


You can replay the game here:

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1744566
posted by WalkingAround at 12:22 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


How many computers compete in the average chess tournement?

Zero (except for cheating). But this was not always the case.
posted by thelonius at 12:23 PM on January 28


I don't think there's ever been a MSFT product that boots in 79 seconds.
posted by chavenet at 1:01 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I appreciate all the thoughtful responses to my obnoxious comment about chess not being interesting since computers brute-forced it. Part of my comment is motivated by the well-worn trope of AI grad students, "a problem is considered artificial intelligence right until a computer solves it." As late as the 1960s people talked about chess playing as the pinnacle of AI. Now we just understand it as a boring min-max search with just a bit of pruning heuristics, coupled with some significant parallelism. Go will fall to that analysis too eventually, but at least it has a few years left in it.

I get the joy of doing things for yourself when machines can do them better and do various things like that myself. But I consider those activities as atavisms, indulgences. My original comment was more pointing out that Gates has (or had) the capability to build chess playing machines and all sorts of other marvelous computing machines. I think that's way more interesting than Carlsen's (admittedly brilliant) chess gameplay. I mean seriously, what would you rather devote your life to? A revolution in personal computing and then going on to revolutionize world health care? Or being really good at solving jigsaw puzzles?

if a computer ever reliably passes the Touring test will Nelson find human interaction uninteresting as well?

I'd probably find the AI more interesting than the humans! At least in the realm of activities where it can pass for human. (Bonus fun homosexualist fact: the original Turing test has an interesting gender twist along with the passing-as-human requirement.)
posted by Nelson at 1:02 PM on January 28


I can appreciate the Go/Chess AI comparison. From what I understand, the best Chess computer can draw/win against the best human player pretty consistently, but the best Go AI is nowhere near beating top human players. Go is an interesting thing for AI researchers, because you can't really brute force solutions or use huge tables of board states to make decisions.
posted by hellphish at 1:10 PM on January 28


relevant
posted by Ned G at 1:21 PM on January 28


I disagree with the idea that computers being able to beat humans at games makes the games less interesting. It might make playing the game *against a computer* less interesting if you know that any "skill level" settings are just artificially limiting the computer. For me the whole point of games is either:

- to promote social interaction (casual games)
- to have fun (casual games)
- to see how far you can push your own brain (serious games)
- to measure your brain against other people (serious games)

The motorbike vs. runner or cyclist comparison is a good one. The competition is "using a human body and brain, ..." not "using any device, ...".

Eventually AI will beat people at Go. Will it be less interesting then? Nah. Not to mention that the *way* computers usually solve games today is totally uninteresting (basically brute force). Magnus Carlsen doesn't look at 8 billion combinations every move; he probably looks at like 3 candidate moves and maybe at most a couple dozen lines leading from those. And yet he's almost on par with the computer looking at a zillion positions ... now *that's* interesting.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:27 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


I'm just glad to see Landry's gotten back to using his brain for good in the world. That spin at the exterminators seemed really dangerous.
posted by one_bean at 1:28 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


But I consider those activities as atavisms, indulgences.

I see it exactly the opposite way around: To paraphrase Vonnegut, the whole point of grossly inefficient biological systems like us is to fart around.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:43 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Anyone who says they could do better should watch this brief analysis of the game by Tryfon Gavriel aka Kingscrusher. Gates fell for a trap on the last move. He was actually "winning" until then.

I defy any patzer here to honestly say that they wouldn't have fallen for the same trap with TV lights glaring and less than two minutes for all your moves, sitting opposite the world champion.
posted by notmtwain at 1:45 PM on January 28


OK. No way would I have taken on g4, TV lights and all.
posted by thelonius at 1:48 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I defy any patzer here to honestly say that they wouldn't have fallen for the same trap with TV lights glaring and less than two minutes for all your moves, sitting opposite the world champion.
It was the most transparent trap in the world, the type that chess players roll their eyes at when people attempt to depict chess on TV. "Aha, I won a piece, take that!" "CheckMATE." The chance of a competent chess player falling for it (2 minutes or no) would have been very small.

(I claim to retain my right to roll my eyes at similar scenes on TV, even though this happened in real life, because those scenes always claim to be depicting good chess players.)
posted by dfan at 1:53 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I knew it was over when that guy moved that horsey-thing.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:58 PM on January 28


To be fair, I would also watch Bill Gates play Lebron 1 on 1.

LeBron Aronian?
posted by Anything at 3:01 PM on January 28


Gates kind of froze unpredictably a couple of times, kind of like Windows.
posted by anothermug at 4:26 PM on January 28


I get the joy of doing things for yourself when machines can do them better and do various things like that myself. But I consider those activities as atavisms, indulgences. My original comment was more pointing out that Gates has (or had) the capability to build chess playing machines and all sorts of other marvelous computing machines. I think that's way more interesting than Carlsen's (admittedly brilliant) chess gameplay. I mean seriously, what would you rather devote your life to? A revolution in personal computing and then going on to revolutionize world health care? Or being really good at solving jigsaw puzzles?

This is simply a foolish comparison that relies on a kind of sociological illusion in order to make sense. And I say this as a prior grad student in a field closely related to AI.
posted by polymodus at 5:19 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Hey, at least old money bags was a good sport about that crushing defeat! I think Bill Gates, for whatever blind spots he might have (and there have been big ones in the past judging from Microsoft's record), is probably a more decent guy at heart than his most vocal detractors could or would ever admit to themselves. He seems to want to be decent, at least. Unlike some within his social milieu.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:40 PM on January 28


Anyone who says they could do better should watch this brief analysis of the game yt by Tryfon Gavriel aka Kingscrusher. Gates fell for a trap on the last move. He was actually "winning" until then.

Nonsense. Gates was in trouble after Bishop D3 jammed his entire Queen's side up. Not major trouble, possibly. But that was a horrible move that handed the initiative to Carlsen. Further he took on d5, allowing Carlsen to develop his Queen to the centre of the board after tying himself in the knot, restricting his ability to kick the Queen around for fun and profit. Carlsen's supposed tidal wave happened because Bill Gates made a fairly big unforced positional mistake on his third move.
posted by Francis at 7:43 PM on January 28


I like that Nelson's choice is apparently to either be Magnus Carlsen or Bill Gates. As if thats the choice we make when we play a game of chess. I mean, sure, if you have the talent and luck for it, being the richest man in the world would probably be quite fun. That said, I imagine being one of the greatest chess players would be quite fun too. From where does this notion of value arise, one wonders? Do we pity the secretary for their low horizons? They could have created an AI which answers the phone for them! Why am I writing this comment on metafilter? I could have written an AI to do it for me!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:04 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Nonsense. Gates was in trouble after Bishop D3 jammed his entire Queen's side up. Not major trouble, possibly. But that was a horrible move that handed the initiative to Carlsen. Further he took on d5, allowing Carlsen to develop his Queen to the centre of the board after tying himself in the knot, restricting his ability to kick the Queen around for fun and profit. Carlsen's supposed tidal wave happened because Bill Gates made a fairly big unforced positional mistake on his third move.
posted by Francis at 7:43 PM on January 28 [+] [!]


If you watched the video analysis I suggested, you would have seen how after 9 Re1, white survives the attack and lives to enjoy his piece advantage. (9... Nxf3+ 10 Qxf3 Qh2+ 11 Kf1 and the king runs away.)
posted by notmtwain at 4:50 AM on January 29


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