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3 min read

How chess can help us create a safer transport system

3 min read

How chess can help us create a safer transport system

Robert Falck, Founder and CEO

Man versus machine

In 1956, MANIAC I (Mathematical Analyzer Numerical Integrator and Automatic Computer Model I) became the first computer in the world to defeat a human in a chess-like game. Even though the chess played by MANIAC I relied on a limited amount of memory and computing power compared to today, it both marked a world-first and the starting point of a race between man and machine that would span decades.

Though many of the brilliant minds of the time before the 1956 breakthrough had been captivated by the prospect of creating a machine able to play chess – such as Claude Shannon and Alan M. Turing – this success became one of the main drivers for what unfolded four decades later that fascinated the world.

MANIAC I was able to defeat a novice player on a 6x6 chessboard with no bishops. IBM’s Deep Blue, however, took on the reigning World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov under tournament conditions. Deep Blue managed to win the first game out of six, but Kasparov came back and won the series by deliberately changing his style of play which in a comment afterwards was described as a “wonderfully human thing to do.” One year later, however, when the 1997 rematch took place, Deep Blue managed to defeat Kasparov and secure its place in the history books.

Man together with machine

Since Deep Blue’s triumph, a number of computer programs have managed to do what IBM was the first to achieve. Because of the successes of these computers and programs in the modern era, critical voices have rightfully asked: will chess survive Artificial Intelligence?

One of the answers to this question is a new approach to the way in which AI is applied. In contrast to the traditional process that centers on learning how to destroy an opponent, the new approach instead focuses on predicting human moves and mistakes with the goal of creating AI that is “better at interacting with humans, by teaching or assisting them… or even negotiating with them.”

Just as the new chess engine Maia, also DeepMind has the ambition to work in a similar vein by letting humans and systems such as AlphaZero creatively explore together instead of opposing each other.


Jon Kleinberg at Cornell University, who together with his colleagues presented Maia last year, sees that this new approach holds potential across several sectors. One example is within healthcare where this approach can be used to train doctors to become better in reading medical images to identify but also avoid errors.

Using the technology forefront to create a safer transport system

At Einride, we believe that this new approach to AI holds great potential for the future of the world's transportation system. Just as AI on a daily basis can help save lives in healthcare, it also holds vast potential when it comes to predicting human behavior and mistakes in road traffic.

The utilization of new technologies such as AI and other frontline innovations such as sensor systems will be essential to significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents and fatalities globally. We envision a safer transportation system in the near future, where better trained human drivers with more advanced assisting safety systems, autonomous vehicles, and interaction systems between the two will play a key role.

As we have chess to thank for a lot of our technological progress to date, and as this year marks the 65 year anniversary of the historical victory of MANIAC I that sparked tremendous technological advancements up until today, it is our great pleasure to be the main sponsor Uppsala Young Champions in chess starting today. We do so as a way to celebrate the role that the game of chess has played for a lot of the technology we enjoy today, but also as a way to support the advancements of tomorrow.

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