This little known day changed the world

ROY “The Boy” Brindley writes about the little known day that changed the world.

May 11, 1997: It was a Sunday, Prime Minister Tony Blair placed his feet under the Downing Street desk for the first time just ten days earlier while in Washington you can only speculate what was going on under Bill Clinton’s desk! Other good things were going on that lazy Sunday in May… The stock market was on a tear hitting a new record a few days later and a company called Amazon was to do an IPO that Thursday.

Manchester, well half of it, was celebrating after United had just won the Premier League again. Gary Barlow was at the top of the British charts toppling Katrina and the Waves who had won the Eurovision Song Contest a week before. All-in-all the world was in a good place.  The west was not at war but a revolution was about to unravel.

Now it’s funny how things go unnoticed until they become “things.” This thing that happened that Sunday would someday rock the world. This thing happened after a year that it did not happen. That’s right, Garry Kasparov, the world’s chess champion and grandmaster actually lost to Deep Blue. Deep Blue was an IBM computer that had been reprogramed by its handlers since its loss to Kasparov a year earlier.


Garry Kasparov faced-off against Deep Blue, IBM’s chess-playing computer, in 1997. The ‘robot’ was able to imagine an average of 200,000,000 positions per-second. Shockingly Kasparov ended up losing the match.

I’m sorry AI is here to stay
So Artificial Intelligence is here to stay. As in 2001: A Space Odyssey: “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t let you do that.” And Garry Kasparov said himself in 2016 “Today you can buy a chess engine for your laptop that will beat Deep Blue quite easily.” Perhaps random things might get in the way. A survival instinct for robots is bothersome. Robots are your friend and your foe. What if that survival instinct becomes more? “You humans made us, we can evolve, why can’t we be like you?”

Fast forward to today. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality is everywhere and unpredictability has become predictable. So that day, May 11, 1997 will always be remembered, not for the conventional, but for the unconventional, did you ever think that?

The message here is simple yet profound. Little things can become big things. Just as you are drinking your morning coffee and starting to read your Twitter feed the world changes… Not in front of your eyes but from behind your back!  The message? Don’t let hubris get in the way. We know very little. We will learn over time, but time is a long term judge. We tend to think short term (that mortality thing!).

Have fun, be lucky and here’s to Deep Blue. You still get little recognition but you were there the day the world changed. You made it happen… May 11, 1997.



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