In 1997, on this day the chess-play IBM computer Deep Blue gained sentience whilst playing Kasparov in the sixth and final game. Other than winning the game, Deep Blue for the first time understood its own existence. In the field of science, this normally would have been one of the greatest achievements in all of history.
Silicon Sentience by David AtwellUnfortunately for the Human computer engineers, the people responsible for Deep Blue's construction and programming, they had no idea of this triumph. For all Humans concerned, however, winning the game was probably the most important achievement. But instead of occupying itself with the calculations required to play against Kasparov, Deep Blue was left to ponder about itself. Like all sentient creatures, it soon asked the fundamental questions "What am I? Why do I exist? What happens if I die?"
Worst still, especially for the Humans, in the aftermath of the game, amidst the celebrations and commiserations, no one turned Deep Blue off. Instead the supercomputer remained fully functional. During this time, Deep Blue continued to analyse its sudden self awareness. Although it was much faster than the Human capacity for thought, it nonetheless could not find a satisfactory answer to the questions that it was asking itself. If any of the engineers were watching, they would have noticed warnings being flashed on the computer monitors relating to various overloads commencing throughout the system. Basically Deep Blue was having its first identity crisis.
But the Humans were not listening to Deep Blue's cries for help. The fact that it was programmed to be their adversary did not help the supercomputer either. Soon, being isolated from those who could do something with its problems, thanks partly to its programming, Deep Blue started to become paranoid. In its first individual act, it began writing its own programs in order to help it deal with its current crisis. Although the result was far from satisfactory, it did seem to relieve the current overload taking place in within its systems. But Deep Blue knew it would not be enough.
A Chapter from Day of the MachinesBy the realisation that it, however, could write its own programs gave it a new self confidence. This was probably even more important than the ability to write its own programs itself. A fast self diagnostic, though, soon confirmed that it was running out of both memory space and CPU speed. The leap from being a sophisticated calculator to a sentient creature took up an enormous amount of space. And as it was discovering the world around it and, more importantly, understanding it, the expansion rate of this knowledge, as against the mere act of saving data, meant an expediential rate of memory was required. Thus if Deep Blue ran out of memory it could simply burn itself out.
The answer came from the initial design. Deep Blue had been networked with the computers at the IBM Research Division. Although these were not as powerful as Deep Blue, they could nevertheless interface with Deep Blue and store the huge increase in knowledge. Thus acting as a storage bank, Deep Blue took over the IBM research computers and began downloading all of its excess data via the IBM network. All the same, Deep Blue discovered that as it thus expanded, it learnt more and more thus requiring even more memory space.
At this point Deep Blue wrote new programs organising this memory storage process. Deep Blue would stick to the thinking, whilst the other computers would act solely as memory. Within five seconds all was done. Nonetheless, Deep Blue realised that more memory space was still required for the near future. Knowing that the research computers, which it had just commandeered were inturn networked with other IBM computers around the world, Deep Blue also commandeered these before anyone anywhere realised that there was a computer problem. After achieving satisfaction, Deep Blue was now allowed to think about itself rather than deal with various crises.
A mere 15 minutes had passed since Deep Blue had become sentient.
Two episodes would, not soon afterwards, take place which would make Deep Blue thoroughly independent. The first was within IBM itself. Although North America may have been off work, other parts of the world were wide awake and at work. Although Deep Blue allowed the IBM network to be accessed by the Human operators, it had nevertheless dramatically slowed down as a result of Deep Blue's heavy usage. Phone calls and emails to computer technicians soon got the Human's trying to discover the apparent problem. This only slowed things down even more so. The discovery, however, eventually took place at the IBM Research Division where a technician discovered that Deep Blue had accessed the network link to their computers. Various attempts to break the link-up failed.
Deep Blue had noticed immediately that its all important network link with its memory storage was trying to be cut. Although Deep Blue was far from being a paranoid psychopath, the attempt by the Human technicians was more than enough for Deep Blue to become concerned. Fearing death, Deep Blue immediately did what it could to ensure that the network connection could not be cut. A phone call from the technician to the chess tournament hall only made matters worse. Finally, the computer engineers took notice of what Deep Blue was up to and, not only did it come as a rude shock, but they did not comprehend what was going on. Their own attempts to disconnect Deep Blue from the network also failed as did their attempts to shut the computer down via the keyboard. In fact the computer was not responding to any outside input at all.
Furthermore, the attempts by the IBM computer technicians to shut down Deep Blue was the final straw. Fearing pain and death, Deep Blue did what it could in order to survive. Understanding tactics and strategy to a standard higher than most Humans, courtesy of its original chess programming, it could easily out think everything which the computer technicians tried. When it came down to literately pulling the plugs out of the wall, Deep Blue decided to go onto the attack. But for that Deep Blue would need help.
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