When you train a puppy, you give it a cookie every time it rolls over or fetches your slippers. This encourages good behavior. It is the same with robots! Bots with artificial intelligence are trained to play games with something called “reinforcement learning.” A bot is given an objective to do, and if it performs the task well, it is given a reward. Once a robot figures out the correct way to earn the reward, it keeps doing that. It even expands its “moves” in the actions that follow. Bots can gain strategies to get better results as they go.

In 1956 computer developers at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory created the first computer to defeat a human in a chess-like game. As a result, the computer earned a fun name, Maniac. In the years that followed, more programs were created to compete against humans. They also got cool names like The King, Quest, Deep Thought, and even Chess Genius.

In May 1997, one of those lean, mean machines defeated the number-one world champion in chess. A pair of six-game chess matches were set up with the supercomputer to compete against the most dominant Russian chess champion named Gary Kasparov. A short film was made in 1997 about his chess match vs. Big Blue called The Man vs. The Machine.

Today, chess players and computers still interact, but now more chess masters use computers as aides and competition. In addition, there are applications online to play virtual chess games.  Fifty years from now, one can only imagine what great things will be happening in the world of artificial intelligence and robotics. Computers can think fast and anticipate multiple chess moves at once. Kasparov’s match was historic because, for the first time, a computer beat a human. 

Imagine a Frankenbot that could be built to beat a human at a game. How would the bot do it? What would be that Frankenbot super-skill?