[Wittrs] Re: Who beat Kasparov?

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2010 01:56:13 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Gordon Swobe <wittrsamr@...> wrote:

> --- On Tue, 3/16/10, SWM <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
> >> I believe the designers at IBM created Deep Blue as a
> >> tool for beating Kasparov at chess. They, not Deep Blue,
> >> beat Kasparov.
> >
> >
> > Yes, but isn't this mainly an artifact of how we choose to
> > look at it?
> No. In serious conversation about objective reality (I assume here perhaps 
> wrongly that you subscribe to the correspondence theory of truth or something 
> close to it) there exists a real fact of the matter as to who/what beat 
> Kasparov at chess. Either Deep Blue beat Kasparov or IBM's programmers and 
> engineers beat Kasparov. I challenge you to make up your mind.

Why do you think it's just a simple this or that, black or white? Life and 
language aren't like that. There are senses and contexts, and so forth. How I 
view it will depend on context and it seems to me that in the context that is 
alluded to in the Dennett text you quoted, it is perfectly reasonable to say 
Deep Blue beat Kasparov. After all, none of the computer engineers or 
programmers were playing him, actually facing him one on one and forced to 
respond to his moves the way a player is.

And the the machine, Deep Blue, WAS on the other side of the metaphorical 
table, did have to face the moves and did have to respond. If what we mean by 
"playing" is to engage in the competition of the game over the chess board 
(real or virtual) then only Deep Blue was on the other side of it, not the 
engineers (who probably couldn't have even stood up to Kasparov one on one.

If what we mean is an entity thinking in the same way Kasparov was, then nobody 
was playing Kasparov, not even the engineers. And that seems odd because 
Kasparov clearly thought he was playing the game with an opponent.

But if what we mean is that the engineers and programmers faced a challenge to 
develop and build a machine that could beat Kasparov, they succeeded in THEIR 
game even if they weren't sitting on the other side of the table facing 

Now the question comes back to what does it mean to play like a human plays? 
Well we can guess that Kasparov, the human, sees images of the board in his 
mind, has a recollection of maybe thousands of moves and games he has played in 
his lifetime and how they went, has a feel for the board such that, perhaps, he 
dreams about it, thinks in terms of it, sees it in  his waking moments when he 
is doing other things and perhaps sees the board in patterns of movements 
reflecting the overlapping control the different pieces impose on the board. 
And, of course, Kasparov is prone to some level of distraction as other kinds 
of thoughts come and go within his mind and has an emotional life that may 
affect his play.

Presumably Big Blue lacks all of these things though it has a high degree of 
robust computational power applied to chess moves (which presumably Kasparov 

Now you can certainly say that Big Blue, lacking the kinds of things Kasparov 
has, wasn't really playing. But then it would depend on what "playing" means.

Is it to actually engage in a move-for-move exchange of information over a real 
or virtual board? Or is it to engage with awareness of the other opponent and 
of the various collateral meanings of the moves and the pieces on the board? 
Well, it can be either, can't it? And then the question is which is relevant to 
the question?

Dennett says Big Blue beat Kasparov. Well didn't it? Seems to me that in one 
very ordinary and respectable sense of "playing", Big Blue did.

> > I certainly would say it seems to me that the machine beat Kasparov
> > though not in the way a human opponent would have done it. And, in a
> > sense, I would also say the designers beat him.
> Again, I think you need to make up your mind.

Again I think you pose an artificial choice here, one that partakes of a sense 
of absolutes which life does not, in fact, consist of. But if you want me to 
say which, I have already said it and I said it at the outset, i.e., that I 
agree with Dennett's description.

> On my view Deep Blue has only AS-IF intentionality and no claim to victory.

Not so on my view. But the fact that either of us has a view here is not an 
argument for either side. It's just an expression of the ways we each happen to 
see this.

> We (meaning you and Dennett and me when I humor you) speak of Deep Blue *as 
> if* it has intentionality, but of course Deep Blue has no intrinsic 
> intentionality; that machine has no real subjective experience this side of 
> science-fiction. Right, Stuart?

I don't know what "intrinsic intentionality" is. Do you? Can you describe it? 
Define it? Point it out? Can you do any of these things for "intentionality" 
alone, even when it's not "intrinsic"?

I think Dennett's case is a good one though, i.e., that intentionality is an 
ascription we apply to certain kinds of entities because that ascription 
enables us to predict and react better to their behaviors. But it doesn't mean 
there's a there there.

> Do you recognize the distinction between as-if and intrinsic intentionality? 
> Do you even have an idea what I mean here? If you don't recognize this 
> distinction then it hardly makes sense to discuss the CRA.
> -gts

Well I think the burden's on you to define what you mean, not for me to guess; 
nor is it for you to say that 'if you don't know what I mean, even if I haven't 
told you, it hardly makes sense to discuss the CRA with you.'

Now of course you are not obligated to discuss it with me but you are the one 
who initiated the discussion with me about this, not vice versa. I have 
actually talked a lot about Searle and his views about consciousness over many 
lists now and am not always eager to recap past arguments, especially because 
many here have seen me present them before and are probably tired of them. But 
since you are new to the list and since you came in explicitly defending Searle 
and his CRA and since you noticed that I criticize Searle on the matter of his 
CRA and chose to address that, I have been willing to respond and even rehash 
old points.

But if you want to say that it's not worth talking to me about it if I don't 
get something you haven't even explicated, then I can't force you to continue 
to talk about it. However, it's rather an easy out, isn't it, to simply shut 
down the discussion that way?

Suffice it to say that I am not the one shutting down the discussion but, 
rather Searle's defender here. Be that as it may though . . .


P.S. By the way, I note that you did not respond to my point that it was 
somewhat odd for you to have put this down to a matter of belief as when you 
said "I believe the designers at IBM created Deep Blue as a tool for beating 
Kasparov at chess. They, not Deep Blue, beat Kasparov". I have often been 
struck by the remarkable element of faith that CRA supporters ultimately fall 
back on in their defense of Searle's argument. Of course, the fact that you 
"believe" X is no argument for X (given that Searle's CRA is supposed to be an 
argument grounded in logic).

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