Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Chess, Artificial Intelligence and Free Will?

Computational Complexity initiates an interesting conversation by asking, "Does a Chess Program have Free Will?" He begins by quoting David McAllester, an AI professor at TTI:
In actual chess playing programs the program "considers" individual moves and "works out" the consequences of each move. This is a rather high level description of the calculation that is done, but it is fair to say that the program "considers options" and "evaluates consequences". When I say, as a human being, that I have to choose between two options, and that I have not decided yet, this seems no different to me from the situation of a chess playing computer before it has finished its calculation. The computer's move is determined - it is a deterministic process - and yet it still has "options". To say "the computer could move pawn to king four" is true provided that we interpret "could do x" as "it is a legal option for the computer to do x".... A chess playing program shows that a determined system can have free will, i.e., can have options. So free will (having options) is compatible with determinism and there is no conflict.
Read the entire post, as well as, the equally interesting comments.

See also "Artificial Intelligence & Chess".

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