In the end, brain cells triumphed over silicon chips. In the first six-game, regulation chess match pitting man against machine, world chess champion Garry Kasparov overcame early setbacks to easily trounce Deep Blue in the final match, winning the series four games to two.
Few had expected the IBM computer to put up such a valiant fight. In fact, Kasparov seemed worried after the series was tied two games apiece. But the champion was able to exploit the chinks in Deep Blue's armor.
"It is weakest in a position where it doesn't have a plan," Kasparov told the news media on Saturday. "You have to limit its unlimited potential, you have to be careful not to create weaknesses in your own position, not to leave hanging pieces, not to leave a king threat. You have to play solid, positional chess because any mistake will be punished by the machine more severely than by a human player."
The match also revived interest--and controversy--over artificial intelligence (AI). Kasparov himself changed his views about a machine's ability to "outthink" and beat a human. "For the first time, I saw something approaching artificial intellect," he said.
Proponents of AI said Deep Blue simply relies on brute power--it uses sophisticated parallel processing, with 256 specially configured chips analyzing 200 million possible chess positions per second. They said it's this emphasis on power that has dominated the computer world for 50 years.
"There's been so much progress in speeding up computers, but the machines are not getting smarter," artificial intelligence specialist Marvin Minsky, an MIT professor and author of Society of the Mind told the Boston Globe. "It's all brute force...As long as machines are faster, they'll use old methods to solve new problems," he said.
Thanks to the Internet, more than 6 million people worldwide were able to follow the game live on the Web, the Associated Press reported. This was a major accomplishment as IBM initially fumbled by not anticipating the heavy traffic, leaving thousands fuming at their inability to access the site during and after the first game.