Machines That Play (Chess — Before Deep Blue)

Mac Hack
“… It will cover a little bit of the history of computer chess, focusing on: Turk, El Ajedrecista, Shannon and Turing’s approaches to build chess programs, MANIAC, Bersnstein’s Chess program, Mac Hack VI, Cray Blitz, HiTech, ChipTest, and Deep Thought — most major attempts until Deep Blue. Why chess? Computer chess is a difficult problem. It was considered the ‘drosophila’ of AI. Why would anyone want to teach a machine how to follow some arbitrary man-made rules to move a bunch of wooden pieces on a checkerboard, with the sole aim of cornering one special wooden piece? It’s so human to attack and capture pawns, knights, bishops and the queen to finally corner the king into an inescapable position. Those are actions and our goals and we balance strategy and tactics to suit those. hen why teach machines to play chess? Chess has long been regarded as the game of intellect. And many people argued that a machine that could successfully play chess would prove that thinking can be modeled/understood or that machines can be built to think. And that is exactly why people wanted to build a machine that could follow some arbitrary rules of our game and become so good at it that it could one day beat us it. Creation of electronic computers began in the 1930s. By the late 1940s computers were used as research and military tools in US, England, Germany, and the former USSR. Early AI researchers wanted to use computers for other engineering challenges that could both attract public interest to AI and allow them to solve complex problems. Computer chess represented this exact engineering challenge. The initial optimism led to a prediction in 1958 that machines would defeat all humans within 10 years (this won’t happen until late 1990s). In the 1960s, AI pioneers Herbert Simon and John McCarthy referred to chess as ‘the Drosophila of AI’, which meant that chess, like the common fruit fly, represented a relatively simple system that could also be used to explore larger, more complex real-world phenomena. Computer chess was the perfect test-bed for AI research. Let’s start. …”
Hackernoon (Video)
A Brief History of Computer Chess
Thinking Machines: The Search for Artificial Intelligence
Retro Computer Chess part 2: First blood, part 1: The paper tiger
Paul Stern (left) and Nick Metropolis play chess with the MANIAC computer

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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