Endgame

How IBM rooked a champion--and crushed humankind

Kasparov never fully recovered from his defeat. Neither did Deep Blue. We discover the latter as we follow company scientist Murray Campbell down the eerily empty hallways of IBM's suburban campus. At the end of a bright corridor, we come to a locked door, which Campbell opens with a swipe of his security card. Inside, in a dim room, stands the mothballed Deep Blue, decommissioned after only 12 games.

Back during the 1997 contest, corporate security guards barred Kasparov from even seeing his silicon opponent--part of the psych-out. It was "like a Pentagon secret room," Kasparov recalls. Seven years later, the carapace remains inviolable. The computer's case, Campbell tells us, is locked and no one seems to have the key.

Though the movie has made Deep Blue out to be a man-breaker, what we see isn't an image of Kubrick's Hal 9000. No, Kasparov's conqueror is a smooth, dark tower in a silent room. It has nothing to say to us, this affectless black shell. Yet we gape nonetheless: naked apes circling the grandson of the monolith from 2001.

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