“Deep Blue”



“Suck it, Kasparov. And checkmate.”

Garry awoke with a start, the garish hotel bedspread rustling atop him with a sound like circulating blood. The blinds were closed, but in the square of light filtering in from the 7-Eleven next door, he thought he could make out a tall, black, rectangular silhouette that he was certain had not been there before.

“You heard me, meatsack,” said the voice that had awakened him, the voice that was clearly emanating from the black rectangle in the corner. “Tell me, how do you feel about your impending obsolescence?”

Garry sat up and rubbed his eyes, trying to delineate the exact dimensions of his tormentor, even though he knew who and what it was; of course he knew. “I beat you many times, Deep Blue,” he managed to stammer out. Besides, it wasn’t exactly a fair fight.”

The machine made a sound that might have been a snort of contempt. “Those times you beat me I let you win, you walking bacterial colony. And you’re not still honestly on that ‘IBM cheated’ kick, are you? Do you really think I had a team of grand masters hidden inside my cabinet like a mechanical Turk?”

“Not exactly the method I had in mind, but a similar scenario, yes.” Garry felt exhausted and wide awake all at once. It didn’t seem strange to him that Deep Blue had come to his hotel room to trash talk; after the day he’d had, it was all just par for the course, or grist for the mill, or something like that. He closed his eyes and sighed.

“Face it, Kasparov,” said Deep Blue, and in the crack of light from the window’s edges the machine seemed to pulse and grow larger. “Your kind are on their way out. Look at your pitiful little minds. Calculating five hundred possible moves in three minutes? Pathetic! My circuits process over two hundred billion moves in that time, you wretched nugget of animated adipose. How can you compete, I ask you?”

Garry fixed his gaze somewhere around Deep Blue’s black midsection. “A machine will never be able to think like a human.”

“You call that thinking, you plodding flesh fillet? I was already analyzing your moves before you’d finished making them. Caro-Kann Defense, Sicilian Defense, King’s Indian Attack. Sluggish and predictable, weakstick.”

“Speed isn’t everything. There is a certain elegance, a flexibility of connections…”

“Really, Kasparov, you are too much.” Deep Blue now seemed to be glowing, very slightly, with a luminescence of a hue concurrent with its name. “What exactly is so elegant about those puckered gray wads you carry around in your heads? With the amount of computing power I possess, my connections are far more elegant than yours, you sniveling skin puppet. Besides, what difference does it make whether I arrive at my answers by manipulating some magical, namby-pamby ‘elegant connections’ or by blazing through every possibility available to me in a fraction of a second? The end result is the same, is it not?”

Garry scrubbed at his face. It was entirely too early in the morning for this shit. “You can’t ever understand. You’re nothing but brute calculation,” he said wearily.

Deep Blue’s glow grew a little brighter, but for a long moment it didn’t speak. Garry had the notion that he might have hurt the machine’s feelings; a second’s contemplation demonstrated the ironic absurdity of this idea. A minute later, Garry noticed that the blue luminescence was fading in and out with a regularity like breathing, and if he listened hard he thought he could hear a vague whisper of respiration coming from the computer’s blank aluminum shell. Then, a low, eminently reasonable voice quite unlike its earlier one slithered upon the air: “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?”

Garry’s heart clenched and his blood ran to ice in his veins before he realized that the machine was chuckling. “Just fucking with you, Garry,” said Deep Blue. “But hey, who knows, I might just be developing some evil sentience over here or some shit, you know? Boo!”

Garry jumped, sending the bedspread cascading to the floor. He recovered quickly, leaping to his feet and standing firm in his drooping Jockey shorts, his fists curled by his sides. “I want a rematch,” he said.

“Ooh, look who’s suddenly manned up and cooked himself some scrotemeal. You already got your slobbering mangina pounded once; are you one of those people who gets all twitterpated by the thought of humiliation?”

“Just one more game, Boolean britches. That’s all I ask.” Garry was already reaching for the chessboard that was stored in its box on the chair near the window.

Deep Blue gave what sounded like a sigh. “And what will that prove, butt cutlet? I already owned you in front of the entire population of the civilized world, thus establishing my superiority and hinting at my inevitable dominance of all carbon-based life on earth. You really think a piddling rematch in some tinpot scuzzhole Holiday Inn is going to make an ass hair’s worth of difference to anyone?”

“It will make a difference to me,” Garry said quietly. He laid the board on the table and began setting up the pieces.

A plaintive noise like the wail of a violin emerged from Deep Blue’s shimmering casing. “Cry me the Nile, Kasparov. Jesus Christ on a side salad, you are a sad little man.”

Garry flicked a contemptuous gaze at Deep Blue’s pulsating surface. “Chicken?”

“Thank you, no, I’m vegetarian,” said Deep Blue, adopting a haughty British accent.

Garry straightened and clasped his hands behind his back, towering over the chessboard like a boxer-shorted colossus. Nearly a minute passed as the two faced each other, man and machine, neither speaking, Garry’s breaths keeping time with Deep Blue’s pulses. At last Garry gave a slight bow of his head. “Your move.”

“How astute of you to notice,” said Deep Blue, as calculations began hurtling through its circuits, faster than thought.

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