Abstract - The Information Society 24(2)

IBM’s Chess Players: On AI and its Supplements

Brian P. Bloomfield and Theo Vurdubakis

This paper investigates the ways in which the reporting of technological developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) can serve as occasions in which Occidental modernity’s cultural antinomies are played out. It takes as its reference point the two chess tournaments (in 1996 and 1997) between the then world champion Gary Kasparov and the IBM dedicated chess computers Deep and Deeper Blue and shows how these games of chess came to be seen as an arena where fundamental issues pertaining to human identity were contested. The paper considers the dominant framing of these encounters in terms of a conflict between two opposed categories – ‘human’ and ‘machine’ – and argues the essential role of human agency, the human supplement, in the performances of machine intelligence.


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