Russian Child Taught Valuable Lesson by Violent Chess Robot

You break a rule, robot break a finger

SHANGHAI, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 15: A robot plays chess during 2020 China International Industry Fair at...
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Do children need consequences? It’s a question to which Google provides the answer, “Consistent, predictable expectations and consequences help children feel safe.” Okay, perfect. After a chess robot broke this one’s finger for breaking a rule, I’ll bet he’s never felt safer.

“The robot broke the child’s finger,” Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, said after a chess-playing robot broke a seven-year-old’s finger during the Moscow Chess Open last week. “This is of course bad.”

In a video of the boy’s match against the chess-playing robot, you can watch the robot crush the boy’s finger against the chess board for several seconds before an adult behind him attempts to pry him free:

Sergey Smagin, vice-president of the Russian Chess Federation, told the Baza Telegram the robot turned on the boy, named Christopher, after he began his turn before the robot completed its move by setting its piece down. “There are certain safety rules and the child, apparently, violated them,” Smagin said. “When he made his move, he did not realize he first had to wait.” He called this “an extremely rare case,” and one he’d never witnessed before. To that we can only reply, “uh-huh” (in an incredulous way).

Lazarev (the guy who said “this is of course bad”) told the Telegram Christopher had “made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried and the robot grabbed him.” Well, it sounds like he deserved it, then, hm? For hurrying? Still, Lazarev added that the chess robot’s manufacturers were “going to have to think again,” with regard to their robot’s child-finger-breaking tendencies.

The seven-year-old Christopher, who is one of Russia’s 30 best chess players under nine, which IMO is a lot of good under-nine-year-old chess players to have in a country, was not deterred by the robot’s violent correction. He was put in a plaster cast and continued to compete in the tournament. Well, well, well.

It seems like the child won this round, robot. (Though it is unclear whether he actually won in terms of chess.) You can crush the human finger, but you cannot crush the human spirit. Judging by this incident, it seems unlikely that AI will rise to destroy humanity before climate collapse beats it to the punch, which we can all agree is an embarrassing defeat. Sorry, robot. At least you still have chess.