Chess robot breaks 7-year-old boy’s index finger: ‘Of course it’s bad’

Chess robot playing against a 7-year-old boy at a tournament in Moscow: an accident occurred. Little chess talent put his finger in the fist of the robot and did not let go. The operators of the robot looked puzzled and pressed the controls to no effect. The men rushed in and had to free the boy from the robot’s grasp, but the index finger was broken.

What happened there?

  • The Moscow Open Chess Championship was held in Moscow from July 13 to 21.
  • 7-year-old Christopher is one of the 30 best under-9 chess players in Moscow.
  • Christopher played against a veteran chess robot whose AI has been moving pieces across the board for 15 years and who has been cared for by the professionals. But an accident happened.

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30 painful seconds

This is how the accident happened: You can see in a 30-second clip of the incident that the chess robot has just moved but appears to be still moving.

The boy makes his move, but gets caught up in the robot’s movement. The robot holds his hand firmly and will not let go.

Operators on the edge of the table manipulate the control panel but get nowhere; The men come running in a hurry trying to free the boy from the grip of the chess robot.

When they finally succeed, a man takes the seemingly crying boy away.

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The clip shows the incident and is hotly debated.

How to go? The boy broke his index finger during the event, but managed to continue participating in the tournament the next day – the finger was in a protective cap, the organizers announced. Aides documented his movements.

The parents are said to have contacted local law enforcement to file a complaint.

Here’s what event organizers say: The head of the Moscow Chess Federation, Sergey Lazarev, commented on the incident:

The robot broke the child’s finger – this is, of course, bad. We rented the robot, it has been shown in many places for a long time with specialists. The specialists seem to have overlooked this. The kid made a movement and then you have to give the robot time to answer, but the boy was too fast, the robot grabbed him. We have nothing to do with the robot.

Another member of the Chess Federation said that the robot had been playing chess for 15 years: “This is a very rare incident, the first I remember.”

Regulators also say: bot operators should consider strengthening protection devices so that such a situation does not happen again.

“The first law of robotics has been violated!”

How is this discussed? The incident was discussed on Twitter, with humanitarians expressing concern that Amnesty International is in rebellion:

  • One asks why a robot is strong enough to break fingers when it only has to pick up chess pieces: “Why build a robot for chess moves that you can use in war?”
  • The user is concerned about violating the basic law of robotics here. It alludes to “Asimov’s laws” which state that a robot should not harm a human – another user points out that these laws are purely fictional.
  • A third user reassured, “Before the Twitter specialists start again [..] We are not at the level of artificial intelligence where the robots can start fighting humanity or get angry.”

This is behind it: With hugely popular science fiction films like The Matrix and The Terminator, there is a widespread fear that the advance of AI will inevitably lead to the extinction of humanity because AI understands that humans are harming humanity and that humanity is better off without it. Humans – or that AI is simply subjugating humanity for the sake of self-interest.

This literary idea is so pervasive in popular culture that any news of artificial intelligence causes some sort of anxiety or concern. The chess robot with a very strong arm also seems to be.

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