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Kid Chess Champions Share Their Secrets | Atlantic

Sep 23, 2019


Video by Jenny Schweitzer Bell

The benefits of teaching chess to children are manifold. Studies suggest that the cognitive-boosting board game, which has endured around the world for more than 15 centuries, improves a child’s visual memory, attention span, spatial-reasoning ability, critical thinking, mental discipline, creativity, math skills, and logical reasoning. One study found that children who played chess scored an average of 10 percentage points higher on reading scores than their peers who didn’t play.

In the short documentary The Magic of Chess, which premieres on The Atlantic today, a cadre of pint-size chess champions reveals how the practice has enriched their lives. The director Jenny Schweitzer Bell shot the film on location at the 2019 Elementary Chess Championships, a high-stakes tournament held annually in Nashville. In attendance—and interviewed in the film—was Tani Adewumi, the 8-year-old Nigerian refugee who, while living in a homeless shelter with his family, beat elite-private-school kids in the New York Chess Championships.

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Kasparov Comments on Alphazero vs. Stockfish match.


Artificial general intelligence is a Rorschach Test: Perhaps we need orangutans?

Kasparov called AGI “fake news,” pointing out that machines such as AlphaZero, Google’s system that can beat humans at chess, go, and shoji, is operating in a “closed system.”

“It’s specialized,” he noted, rather than an intelligence that can generally navigate the world. It evokes the famous debates of Spinoza and Descartes, Kasparov said, whether a mind can exist without a body. Presumably, a body would let the machine explore a much larger terrain than such closed systems.

Hod offered that robotics is a pathway of that kind, the ability for machines to learn by navigating the world. LeCun concurred, referencing the work of Sergey Levine, a U.C. Berkeley professor whose lab does a lot of work on what might be called self-supervised, or semi-supervised learning in robotics systems. The same kind of work is going on at Facebook, LeCun noted. “One of the most interesting areas today is learning models of the world,” he offered. “It would be a step toward the kind of learning humans do, which is different from supervised learning or reinforcement learning,” he added.


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