Jun 11, 2007

Loose Ends

OK, I've got the log-in problem solved. Blogger now wants me to use my email address as my user name instead of my user name. I don't remember when they changed that; certainly seems counter-intuitive and the error messages they give when you do it wrong are particularly useless even by the low standards of computer error messages. Grumble, gripe.

Now, onto a philosophic issue. A couple of comments have questioned my assertion that chess ability is culturally specific.

There is nothing special about chess. It takes the average person 5 minutes to learn how each peice moves and the objective of the game. The game is completely mechanical and a persons skill at it is determined by how many variables a persons short term memory can keep track of via thinking about moves in advanced and that is completely determined by dna. Otherwise computers would not be unable to beat grandmasters at the game. There is nothing cultural about algorithms or memory and these human traits are completely genetic.
Oh dear. I can only assume the writer of that has never played serious chess. There are so many misconceptions in the above paragraph, it's hard to know where to begin.

Of course, chess is highly algorithmic, but only at a very deep level. The complexity of the game is such that it is only very recently that the most powerful computers have been able to play at a grandmaster level. Even now, they can't consistently beat the top human players.

There is more, a lot more, to the skill of a top player than being able to think ahead several moves. The algorithms needed to work ahead more than a half dozen moves are so complicated, and the number of possible scenarios so literally astronomical, (there are more possible chess games than there are atoms in the universe) that no human, or even any current computer, can play the game by brute force analysis alone.

For human players, there is a great deal of intuition involved; a mental faculty that can't be quantified (another hole in the swiss cheese of the materialist's world-view). The computer uses very clever algorithms that try to maximize factors like control of the centre-board, or conservation of pawn structure. There simply isn't the computer power in the world to play a purely brute force game.

The actual playing of the game by masters is as much an art as a skill. The fact that the grandmasters can hold their own against these powerful computers when no human can possibly hold so many variables in memory demonstrates this.

There is a lot more to learning chess than just knowing how the pieces move.


Barry said...

Bhante thanks for your post on Rebirth. That significantly alters my view on 'desire' in earlier posts. But it has got me confused as after all my view came from reading the works of a very famous Buddhist teacher! Any thoughts?

On the problem with google that is happening to everyone who also runs a google mail account and a blog. Actually it is pretty sinister and if you look at http://www.privacyinternational.org/
you will see why.

Anonymous said...

Even so, there is nothing cultural about that intuition.

Are you claiming that the chess experience information travels from one life to the next? No self somehow remembers every past life? Every moment is recorded. If existence has existed for eternity it would mean the past life recording is infinitely big. It is a pure fairy tale. How anyone could believe this in the modern age is beyond belief.