COMPUTER CHESS - Science on Screen®


Cinema Arts Centre - Cinema 1 Thu, Jun 20 7:00 PM


Science on Screen®
The Science of Computer Learning: “Why playing chess is easy: what we misunderstood about intelligence”

Thursday, June 20th at 7 PM
Featuring a screening and conversation with Kyle Daruwalla & Ari Benjamin, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
$16 Public | $10 Members

Join us for an entertaining and illuminating evening focusing on the surprising similarities and differences in how computers and the human brain learn, featuring a conversation with scientists Kyle Daruwalla & Ari Benjamin from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and screening of Andrew Bujalski’s cult hit movie.

Eleven years ago, the influential independent filmmaker Andrew Bujalski, director of Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation, and Support the Girls, made the daring, prescient Computer Chess. Set in the 1980s at the start of the tech revolution, over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers, Computer Chess transports viewers to a nostalgic moment when the contest between technology and the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs. We get to know the eccentric geniuses possessed of the vision to teach a metal box to defeat man, literally, at his own game, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence as we know it and will come to know it in the future. Science fiction in reverse, Computer Chess, which was shot entirely on a consumer-grade Sony videocamera, anticipated our present artificial intelligence debate 11 years ago and is set 30 years before that. With a funny, deeply weird, almost surreal tone, Bujalski’s film is a delight, providing a refreshing lens on our relationship to technology and artificial intelligence while offering a slice of analog nostalgia. (USA, 2013, 92 min., b/w, DCP).

Kyle Daruwalla is a NeuroAI scholar at Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Previously, he completed his B.S. in Computer Engineering and Mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, then his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research brings together perspectives from computer science, machine learning, and neuroscience. Specifically, Kyle studies how evolution and neural development can guide us to produce artificial intelligence that learns with less data and fewer energy resources. He also works with the Hou Lab at CSHL to study facial expressions in rodents. Outside of the lab, he enjoys playing guitar, woodworking, and hiking with his dog, George. Watching George learn is a constant source of curiosity and inspiration for Kyle.

Ari Benjamin studies the similarities – and differences – between the design of artificial intelligence systems and the brain. Despite their strikingly similar capabilities, such as abstract association, prediction, and styles of pattern recognition, their underlying architecture is not as similar as many AI proponents lead on. At CSHL, Ari is postdoctoral researcher working in Tony Zador's lab to study the reasons why the brain has so many cell types whereas AI systems have so few (arguably just 1). Other interests include the differences in learning algorithms, what either system finds easy or hard to learn, and the ethical issues of AI systems in society. Prior to CSHL, Ari received his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and BA in physics at Williams College.

An initiative of the COOLIDGE CORNER THEATRE, with major support from the ALFRED P. SLOAN FOUNDATION.

Special Thanks to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for making this event possible, with an extra special thank you to Caroline Cosgrove and Brianne Seviroli at CSHL for their hard work making this idea into reality.