The other day, I had the pleasure of speaking with David Levy from all the way in London. David is a British International Master of chess, a businessman noted for his involvement with computer chess and artificial intelligence, and the founder of the Computer Olympiads and the Mind Sports Olympiads. He has written more than 40 books on chess and computers.
Thanks to the generous efforts of my grandfather, who had done business with David for many years in the toy and game industry, I connected with him to discuss Artificial Intelligence and its influence as an emerging technology. Despite the eight hour time difference, we had a very pleasant chat where he relayed to me some of his background and opinions in the world of AI.
Please enjoy the interview below!
How did you get into playing chess?
I was taught by my uncle when I was 8 years old. My school had a strong chess club, and I just kept practicing and became really good.
What got you interested in Artificial Intelligence?
When I graduated, I got a job in the Computer Science department of Glasgow doing research. In 1967, somebody at the university told me that someone had been programming chess so I got interested in the field. In 3 or 4 years, I became well known in the field. I was a Scottish chess champion.
By being involved in computer chess I came across a few artificial intelligence conferences so I got to meet some of the leading people in the AI world. Human computer conversation was the big topic back then.
What is the best film representation of Artificial intelligence’s capabilities you have seen?
Her (2013) was quite good. Many people realize the capabilities of AI have come leaps and bounds in the last few years. The more research in the field the quicker the development becomes.
How do you see AI intertwining with society as of right now and in the near future?
Currently people are becoming more conscious of the capabilities and intrigued by Siri. I think that interest will grow greatly so probably within about 10 years or so a huge number of people will accept AI.
In the future, software will be able to outperform humans. Simulate human emotion, people falling in love with robots, having sex with them and marrying them. This is explained in the book Love, Sex and Robots.
How has chess helped you deal with computers and AI?
It was the introduction to the world of computer chess and my interest in AI developed so I wouldn’t say it helped me directly but it was sort of my calling card. It helped me get into AI.
What advice do you have for AI programmers going forward?
It’s a big field and a very broad question. It’s growing exponentially all the time and at a very quick rate.
What do you think AI should not be used for?
The ethics of AI is under a lot of scrutiny, things about AI being used in the battlefield or inciting wars, it’s a massive question. It doesn’t matter what government or lawmakers decide it should not be used for, it will be used anyway. No matter was it prescribed for, it will be used.
What has been the best way for you to learn about AI?
Reading books. There’s a very good blog site where Ray Kurzweil puts together a summary of the most important tech and AI news in the last week. You can subscribe to his free newsletter. I wrote a book called Robots Unlimited that is a good introduction to the field and is good for anyone to read.
You can get David’s book Robots Unlimited from AbeBooks.com here.
What do you think about David’s opinions about AI? Share your opinion in the comments!