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Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind (MIT Press) Paperback – February 10, 2012

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Diego Rasskin-Gutman has gracefully surveyed modern ideas about artificial intelligence in a context of brain structure and function and of contemporary views about cognitive science. This wide-ranging book is unified by considering the game of chess, a rich source of metaphors relating to human problem solving, and the domain of the greatest victory for artificial intelligence.

(Charles F. Stevens, Professor, The Salk Institute)

[G]iven its rich discussion of how chess programs have developed, Chess Metaphors should appeal to both chess enthusiasts and those interested in cognition and the mind.

(Melody Jue The Information Society)

This book, in an accessible but profound way, approaches difficult but essential questions about the function of two types of intelligence destined to coexist as parent and child: human intelligence and artificial intelligence.

(Miguel Illescas Córdoba, International Chess Grand Master, Director, Chess Education and Technology, Spain)

From the inner works of the brain to automata and artificial intelligence, Rasskin-Gutman's book offers a window to chess that goes far beyond the game itself. As in chess, it also opens multiple paths for looking at how the mind works and builds metaphors. A fascinating read.

(Ricard V. Sole, ICREA Research Professor, Complex Systems Lab (UPF), Parc Recerca Biomedica de Barcelona)

About the Author

Diego Rasskin-Gutman is Research Associate and Head of the Theoretical Biology Research Group at the Institute Cavanilles for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, Spain.


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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (February 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780262517492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262517492
  • ASIN: 0262517493
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,685,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book with the expectation of reading something on the mind, AI and chess and ways in which they overlap. In particular how the study of chess might have impacted AI research and how chess programming uses ideas from cognitive analysis of chess players. This book was not about those things...

The book starts out with an overview of the brain physiology. It assumes no prior knowledge and goes through some of the evolutionary differences between humans and other species. It discusses the basics of neurons, how they communicate and some of the ideas behind how the brain might work. In particular some of the original neural network ideas and topological maps of mind and body. The book then moves into the mind and brings up cartesian dualism. It discusses memory, emotions, what makes us self concious. It is a mixture of psychology, neuroscience and philosophy. THere has been little discussion of chess up to this point other than some vague metaphors here and there. They might be accurate but they dont follow naturally and they definately dont evolve from the text, they are sort of forced in. The book then goes to discuss computation by computers and cognitive processes, some of the differences and similarities. Nothing too deep, just overviews and the difference between methods, particularly chip deductiveness vs human inductiveness. Memory recognition, patter regocnition. The author is building up the blocks to eventually discuss how excellent chess players seem to be able to compute so quickly, which is attributed to pattern recognition rather than superior backwards induction. This is backed up through scientific experiments

The book moves into chess more completely, discussing the history first.
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Format: Hardcover
The author covers the waterfront since "Deep Blue" soundly beat Garry Kasparov but in a very much hit or miss fashion. Even with the announcement in the title that the book is about "chess metaphors," the organization of the book suffers from too much jumping about and too little apparent actual knowledge about chess thought per se. It is not entirely clear what he expected to accomplish in the book as a whole? The results are a kind of parallel analysis of several loosely connected topics that should they have been better integrated would have made for a much more interesting read: The key topics that were introduced and in some cases glossed over, were: how the brain works, the psychology of competitive board games, and a brief history of how computer chess has evolved, with a little AI thrown in at the end just for good measure.

Having studied, used and taught applications to neural networks, I was particularly interested in how chess-playing algorithms have evolved in this direction since my teaching days, but was not entirely enlightened by this rather uneven treatment of the subject. One thing that has become clear from the author's analysis is that chess-playing computers are still only as good as the humans writing the programs. We are indeed a long way from the era when a computer can simulate human thought processes, and then independently act on them -- which is the most often scenario called up in the imagination when one thinks of a computer playing chess machine.

Instead of a computer that thinks like a top echelon creative chess master, we are told by this author that what we get instead is one that substitutes inelegant power and brute electronic force (its multiple-ply search algorithms can evaluate up to as many as 200 billion moves per second!
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Format: Paperback
If nothing else, this book is an easy read because it really doesn't take any real brain power to understand the meeting of how the brain works with the experience of playing chess. This is true because the author never even seems to attempt to integrate the first two chapters of the book (on different aspects of the mental processing and the brain) and the later chapters on chess. Instead, there is what is a summary of achievements in computer chess. I knew there was a problem when the author starts to sing the praises of pioneers like Turing, Shannon, etc.. Of course, Shannon was a major contributor to information theory, and do to recent books and movies, everyone knows about Turing, but the substance of the treatment never provided any real depth. The author spent a short amount of time (two short sections of one chapter) providing a high level summary of brute forth approaches using pruning techniques, and another that attempts to mimic reasoning. But all in all, almost every bit of the material can be had doing a good night's search on google and Wikipedia.
If you're interested in a literature survey of topics of computer chess, theory of mind, how the brain functions as separate and non-integrated subjects, this is your book.

So, if you know anything about these subjects, this book won't provide a bit of original work or original analysis. In fact, I wouldn't have minded if the author found some other material that integrated the topics, but he never really did that either. I did finish the book because I kept thinking there must be something more substantial coming, but the chapter on how the computer has just about dominated high level chess was the not-so-grand finale.
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