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Hardcover | $24.95 Trade | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780262182676 | 232 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 58 b&w illus.| July 2009
Paperback | $12.95 Trade | £9.95 | ISBN: 9780262517492 | 232 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 58 b&w illus.| February 2012

Essential Info

Chess Metaphors

Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind


When we play the ancient and noble game of chess, we grapple with ideas about honesty, deceitfulness, bravery, fear, aggression, beauty, and creativity, which echo (or allow us to depart from) the attitudes we take in our daily lives. Chess is an activity in which we deploy almost all our available cognitive resources; therefore, it makes an ideal laboratory for investigation into the workings of the mind. Indeed, research into artificial intelligence (AI) has used chess as a model for intelligent behavior since the 1950s. In Chess Metaphors, Diego Rasskin-Gutman explores fundamental questions about memory, thought, emotion, consciousness, and other cognitive processes through the game of chess, using the moves of thirty-two pieces over sixty-four squares to map the structural and functional organization of the brain.

Rasskin-Gutman focuses on the cognitive task of problem solving, exploring it from the perspectives of both biology and AI. He examines concept after concept, move after move, delving into the varied mental mechanisms and the cognitive processes underlying the actions of playing chess. Bringing the game of chess into a larger framework, he analyzes its collateral influences that spread along the frontiers of games, art, and science. Finally, he investigates AI's effort to program a computer that could beat a flesh-and-blood grandmaster (and win a world chess championship) and how the results fall short when compared to the truly creative nature of the human mind.

About the Author

Diego Rasskin-Gutman is Research Associate and Head of the Theoretical Biology Research Group at the Institute Cavanilles for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, Spain.


“[G]iven its rich discussion of how chess programs have developed, Chess Metaphors should appeal to both chess enthusiasts and those interested in cognition and the mind.” — Melody Jue, The Information Society


"This book, in an accessible but profound way, approaches difficult but essential questions about the function of two types of intelligence destined to coexist as parent and child: human intelligence and artificial intelligence."
Miguel Illescas C

"Diego Rasskin-Gutman has gracefully surveyed modern ideas about artificial intelligence in a context of brain structure and function and of contemporary views about cognitive science. This wide-ranging book is unified by considering the game of chess, a rich source of metaphors relating to human problem solving, and the domain of the greatest victory for artificial intelligence."
Charles F. Stevens, Professor, The Salk Institute

"From the inner works of the brain to automata and artificial intelligence, Rasskin-Gutman's book offers a window to chess that goes far beyond the game itself. As in chess, it also opens multiple paths for looking at how the mind works and builds metaphors. A fascinating read."
Ricard V. Sole, ICREA Research Professor, Complex Systems Lab (UPF), Parc Recerca Biomedica de Barcelona

"In this highly original book, Diego Rasskin-Gutman weaves a complex but beautiful tapestry of ideas and emotions. Chess sacrifices mix with research on brain and the mind, and world chess champion Gary Kasparov meets Nobel Prize winners Eric Kandel and Herbert Simon. A winning move!"
Fernand Gobet, Director of the Centre for the Study of Expertise, Brunel University, West London, International Chess Master

"This literate and carefully crafted book leads the reader on an interdisciplinary journey using the game of chess as a unifying theme. Games have long been thought to be ideal domains for the study of human and artificial intelligence, and Rasskin-Gutman shows us why through a fascinating collection of anecdotes and explanations."
Murray Campbell, Senior Manager, Services Modeling, IBM TJ Watson Research Center