Hellooooo History People!
Today’s historical events range from a variety of subjects, including:
1763: France, Great Britain, and Spain sign the Treaty of Paris, ending the French and Indian War.
1942: The Battle of Midway (WWII)
1996: Gary Kasparov vs. Deep Blue
“Human beings are weaklings at everything. They can’t run, jump, swim as well as a dozen animals…but there is one area where we have been supreme for millions of years. That’s intelligence. Nothing has challenged us. Now for the first time in the history of our race, something comes that says ‘hey, I might be smarter than you are’, and it’s a machine.”
– Excerpt from the documentary Game Over – Kasparov and the Machine (2003).
World Champion Chess Player Gary Kasparov rightfully carried that title for fifteen years with his extraordinary strategic and intellectual ability in the game of chess. One of the most interesting moments of his career, however, and perhaps humanity itself at the time, was when Kasparov agreed to compete against IBM’s new computer, Deep Blue, which had been programmed specifically to play chess. And not just play chess, but skillfully excel at the task. Deep Blue had been preceded by another of its kind, a prototype called Deep Thought, but Kasparov easily outsmarted this opponent in 1989. Until this match between Kasparov and Deep Blue seven years later, the legitimate potential for a computer’s ability to surpass that of human intelligence had been extremely unlikely.
The Kasparov vs. Deep Blue match up consisted of six rounds of play, with the same standards and timing for typical matches. Kasparov’s notoriously aggressive style was observable in the first round, but the outcome of the first round did not meet the expectations of the spectators and certainly those of Kasparov himself. Deep Blue won that round, to the shock of all who were watching. Kasparov came back to win the overall match, but the damage had been done: that first loss proved to the world that it was (and still is) possible to create artificial intelligence that exceeded the level of intellect possessed by the greatest minds of the time.
One year later, Deep Blue’s team of programmers called for a rematch, to which Kasparov obliged. After several days
of “battle” the two opponents each had one win under their belts and three draws. The final game
is what made history. Deep Blue took the win, and the world watched in wonder and incredulity as the world-renown chess master was knocked from his pedestal by the workings of a machine.
This was by no means the beginning of superior machine involvement in the lives of human beings. From the calculator to the elevator, from smart phones to self-driving cars, in the past century alone mankind has rapidly been integrating more and more advanced systems into the daily workings of the world. This Kasparov vs. Deep Blue (1996 and 1997) simply opened everyone’s eyes to future possibilities. William Saletan poses some intriguing thoughts on integrating new technology into humanity in an article found at this link.
Because I chose to major in a cybersecurity-type field, it is important for me to be aware of any up-and-coming technological advances, trends, etc., and as I sit in the shadows, silently watching the extent to which researchers and entrepreneurs are driving new creations and innovations, I have realized that one can feel both madly curious and extremely fearful of the same thing at the same time.
Curious, because, as with any new toy, I desperately want to know what technology is out there, how it works, how I can get one, and how I can use it for whatever daily function it serves to improve.
Fearful, because of the inevitable dependency that will surely follow.
The next thirty years will be the most important in the entire history of humanity. Not because our generation is the
most prevalent member of society, but because we, as the most prevalent members of society, must decide how we are to use the oodles of undiscovered technological advancements that are sure to arise. Will we become completely dependent? Or should we continue to strive for ultimate advancement? My question is, where does it end? What is ultimate advancement? Things, objects, gain artificial intelligence given to them by their programmers, but why? For what purpose does technology advance?
And with all of these advancements, the question of security must also arise. How can we be sure that our personal information is completely safe when it is spread throughout all of these different sources of exposure? And public education of online safety is ridiculously outdated; most individuals don’t have proper methods of security on their own devices – especially mobile devices – which are where most cyber attacks actually take place.
Of course, not all technology is the scary, sci-fi movie, apocalyptic stuff, and we wouldn’t be able to do half the things we do today without the hard work put forth by many individuals who have created devices we use everyday. Sometimes, though, it’s just interesting to consider the possibility of intelligence by humanity’s standards blindly fumbling in the long shadows cast by the artificial genius that had been so diligently created.
That’s all for now, folks.
Quote of the Day:
“Nothing puzzles me more than the time and space; and yet nothing troubles me less.”
– Charles Lamb (Author, Birthday: February 10th, 1775)