Playing a machine

When I play my computer chess program, at a certain point in the game, it will begin to simply throw pieces at me: "Here, have my queen! Here, have my rook!"

It does this when I have a forced checkmate, in order to delay the checkmate by a couple of moves. This is silly, because:

1) If I have seen the check mate, it should not matter to my opponent whether it happens in five moves or in seven.
2) If I haven't seen the checkmate, the computer has just alerted me to the fact that there is one.
3) If I still can't find the checkmate, the computer has handed me the game anyway, since it's given up all its pieces except the king.

Of course, I excuse it: it is just a machine. It doesn't even know that it is playing chess. It doesn't know what an opponent is. It doesn't understand the idea of winning. Like a marble rolling down an inclined plane, it is just mechanically doing exactly what it was built to do.

And Silas, just relax and watch a football game or something: it will be a better use of your time.


  1. But how do you know that it doesn't even know that it is playing chess?

    1. Hmmm, how do I know that the maple tree in the yard is not plotting against me? How do I know that my pet turtle is not actually a super intelligent alien monitoring me? How do I know that my pillow isn't really considering smothering me at this very moment?

      You got me: I don't know any of these things for sure!

    2. You have a pet turtle?


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