Did a bug in Deep Blue lead to Kasparov’s defeat?

Under pressure: The second game proved pivotal in Kasparov's 1997 match against Deep Blue.

(Credit: Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET )

It’s part of the conventional wisdom now that machines are smarter than us, especially when it comes to specific challenges. Chess, for instance. World champion Garry Kasparov’s defeat at the hands of IBM’s Deep Blue computer in 1997 was a milestone in the story of artificial intelligence.

But did the machine merely psych him out? Statistician Nate Silver‘s new book “The Signal and The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–But Some Don’t” contains an anecdote about how a glitch in Deep Blue may have led Kasparov to overestimate the machine’s smarts, according to The Washington Post.

Despite the machine’s ability to evaluate 200 million moves per second, Kasparov easily won the first game of the match. In the 44th move, however, Deep Blue made an inexplicable play, moving a rook for no apparent purpose.

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