Home Health The chess robot who broke a child’s finger doesn’t even know he did

The chess robot who broke a child’s finger doesn’t even know he did

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The chess robot who broke a child’s finger doesn’t even know he did

Playing chess against a computer has been common practice for half a century. For example, I was playing with a rudimentary chessboard of this type when I was 11 years old. Twenty years later the world champion lost to an IBM super computer, whose moves were then replicated on the board by a human being. It was an epochal moment. And today millions of people every day play on Chess and Lichess, the main apps, where they challenge other people but also software of different levels, from beginner to grandmaster.

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Playing chess against a computer is a good exercise, while against a robot it is a form of exhibitionism that tends to give us the illusion of having a sort of thinking being in front of us. Which it is not: it is just software that moves a robotic arm. A few days ago in Moscow, during a tournament, a robotic arm during a game grabbed the finger of his opponent, a 7-year-old boy considered a chess promise, and within seconds fractured him. But he didn’t do it to get revenge for something, he didn’t do it out of anger, he didn’t do it to punish the young opponent of something.


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He did it by mistake. This is a classic example of poor artificial intelligence. Or artificial stupidity. The software probably confused the child’s finger with a piece he wanted to move. A programming problem or sensors dedicated to recognizing objects in its field of view. It happens rarely but for a very long time – exactly since 1979, in Michigan – that someone falls victim to a robot, especially in factories where they are increasingly present. But in all those cases there is no intentionality on the part of the robot which therefore are not killers, they are poorly programmed machines. Robots have no feelings. That of Moscow, to say, does not even know that he has broken a finger to his opponent.

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