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The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:36 am
by Rebel
Rebel wrote: That you fight a lost battle like the music and video industry. You can't beat the clones with old rules not fit to stand the pressure anno 2011. That is better to do something now that you still have influence then to wait the problem to grow above your head and then realize you have lost with no influence at all.

It's a matter of vision. But if you want to live in the pre-internet past go ahead. It's mainly the old 80's and 90's generation that want to put their head in the sand.
bob wrote: [1] SO we can't defeat the terrorists outright. We should give up.

[2] We can't stop copying completely, so we should just open the floodgates and let everyone copy and enter.

[3] What a wonderful world you must live in. The music and video industries are hardly "losing" their battles. They are fighting on behalf of the artists making the videos or music. As they should.
1. You want to label the new guy Roberto Munter a terrorist for not willing to reinvent dozens of wheels and being honest about that ?

2. You know I don't want that. http://www.top-5000.nl/rule2.htm

3. You should take a look at youtube. You find everything. The music and movie industry are helpless. They have given up on youtube long time ago defeated by volume. These are the days of internet, it has come with new realities.

Bob, as 63 year old you certainly must know that to win a fight you can not win is to give up the lost fight and look for alternatives. I would not have said that 3-4 months ago but I foresee that before 2020 the situation will be drastically different as the new generation will take over, that's for sure. We are living now in a transition period, a fight between the old 80's and 90's pre-internet generation and the new 2005+ generation and it's better to give up now and find new solutions than being excluded from the innovatory process and laughed at for not recognizing the inevitable.

Also... one might wonder living in a world with strong source code all over the internet just a few mouse clicks away if it is reasonable to demand new chess programmers to write everything from scratch (because we had to!!) while at the same time it is allowed for the established programmers to freely take from Rybka's legacy of 400 elo points and never mention it. It's too bizarre for words and hypocritical. It's much better to have a transparent CC world with new rules, whatever those rules will be eventually.

Seriously, the time will come the new generation of chess programmers will give us oldies the middle finger for not using what's freely available blocking progress. We would like as those farmers refusing to use milk machines and go bankrupt for not recognizing the times.

Also put yourself in their shoes as an 20 year young university student anno 2011 fascinated by CC, would you start from scratch because a couple of old men want that ?

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:43 pm
by skoony
well said
regards mike

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:17 pm
by hgm
I think you are completely wrong about this.

People still do long-distance running, although it is not a competitive method to get anywhere. Simply because it is fun to do. And those who do it best are highly respected by society. Major marathons do not get less attention and don't have any fewer fans than Formula 1 racing, despite the fact that the cars go som 15 times faster.

Writing Chess engines is just like that. There exist more than 500 engines, and the overwhelming majority of their authors never had the ambition to be the best or to be World Champion. They do it out of curiosity, and because it is fun. Many of those would not think it fun to make some marginal improvements to someone else his code. That sounds more like work...

So there will always be a community of original authors, and they will still be interested in having contests.

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:50 pm
by gerold
hgm wrote:I think you are completely wrong about this.

People still do long-distance running, although it is not a competitive method to get anywhere. Simply because it is fun to do. And those who do it best are highly respected by society. Major marathons do not get less attention and don't have any fewer fans than Formula 1 racing, despite the fact that the cars go som 15 times faster.

Writing Chess engines is just like that. There exist more than 500 engines, and the overwhelming majority of their authors never had the ambition to be the best or to be World Champion. They do it out of curiosity, and because it is fun. Many of those would not think it fun to make some marginal improvements to someone else his code. That sounds more like work...

So there will always be a community of original authors, and they will still be interested in having contests.
And there will still be crooks around to steal the original code and make a few simple changes and claim it is their work. There are about 200+ engines that are clones and not as good as Rybka or just a little better than Rybka. No real improvement. Just one is a few elo better than Rybka. The main rating lists on CCC looks like clone heaven. :-)

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:00 pm
by Dr.Wael Deeb
Rebel wrote:
Rebel wrote: That you fight a lost battle like the music and video industry. You can't beat the clones with old rules not fit to stand the pressure anno 2011. That is better to do something now that you still have influence then to wait the problem to grow above your head and then realize you have lost with no influence at all.

It's a matter of vision. But if you want to live in the pre-internet past go ahead. It's mainly the old 80's and 90's generation that want to put their head in the sand.
bob wrote: [1] SO we can't defeat the terrorists outright. We should give up.

[2] We can't stop copying completely, so we should just open the floodgates and let everyone copy and enter.

[3] What a wonderful world you must live in. The music and video industries are hardly "losing" their battles. They are fighting on behalf of the artists making the videos or music. As they should.
1. You want to label the new guy Roberto Munter a terrorist for not willing to reinvent dozens of wheels and being honest about that ?

2. You know I don't want that. http://www.top-5000.nl/rule2.htm

3. You should take a look at youtube. You find everything. The music and movie industry are helpless. They have given up on youtube long time ago defeated by volume. These are the days of internet, it has come with new realities.

Bob, as 63 year old you certainly must know that to win a fight you can not win is to give up the lost fight and look for alternatives. I would not have said that 3-4 months ago but I foresee that before 2020 the situation will be drastically different as the new generation will take over, that's for sure. We are living now in a transition period, a fight between the old 80's and 90's pre-internet generation and the new 2005+ generation and it's better to give up now and find new solutions than being excluded from the innovatory process and laughed at for not recognizing the inevitable.

Also... one might wonder living in a world with strong source code all over the internet just a few mouse clicks away if it is reasonable to demand new chess programmers to write everything from scratch (because we had to!!) while at the same time it is allowed for the established programmers to freely take from Rybka's legacy of 400 elo points and never mention it. It's too bizarre for words and hypocritical. It's much better to have a transparent CC world with new rules, whatever those rules will be eventually.

Seriously, the time will come the new generation of chess programmers will give us oldies the middle finger for not using what's freely available blocking progress. We would like as those farmers refusing to use milk machines and go bankrupt for not recognizing the times.

Also put yourself in their shoes as an 20 year young university student anno 2011 fascinated by CC, would you start from scratch because a couple of old men want that ?
I totally agree with every single word written here....Ed has been honest to the bones and he simply spealks pure reality....
Again,well said regards,
Dr.D

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:06 pm
by stevemulligan
I don't think $100 will keep the cloners at bay. iOS and xbox have problems with cloning too and that's about what they charge. As I understand it, people already have to pay for a trip to go there in person.

What are the goals of the ICGA? Is it to provide a rankings list of all the non-cloned engines? Is it to help the CC community to grow and exchange ideas? Getting consensus on what the goals are would help decide what (if any) changes are needed.

For instance, what about making the tournament invite only with full bio's and history of the programs and the authors, including what has changed since the last tournament. I would find that much more interesting to read than a list of rankings from engines that may or may not be clones. Invites could be given out based on if you have contributed back to the community (I realize that's very subjective, but I think it's less so than proving an engine is "original-enough" without source code)

AND! Why not give the winners a photo shoot, and then sell posters all year. I would pay $100 for a framed poster of any famous chess developer wearing steam punk gear in the thinker pose. (provided they are on the long list of people who helped me with my newbish questions)

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:28 pm
by melajara
Rebel wrote:
Rebel wrote: That you fight a lost battle like the music and video industry. You can't beat the clones with old rules not fit to stand the pressure anno 2011. That is better to do something now that you still have influence then to wait the problem to grow above your head and then realize you have lost with no influence at all.

It's a matter of vision. But if you want to live in the pre-internet past go ahead. It's mainly the old 80's and 90's generation that want to put their head in the sand.
bob wrote: [1] SO we can't defeat the terrorists outright. We should give up.

[2] We can't stop copying completely, so we should just open the floodgates and let everyone copy and enter.

[3] What a wonderful world you must live in. The music and video industries are hardly "losing" their battles. They are fighting on behalf of the artists making the videos or music. As they should.
1. You want to label the new guy Roberto Munter a terrorist for not willing to reinvent dozens of wheels and being honest about that ?

2. You know I don't want that. http://www.top-5000.nl/rule2.htm

3. You should take a look at youtube. You find everything. The music and movie industry are helpless. They have given up on youtube long time ago defeated by volume. These are the days of internet, it has come with new realities.

Bob, as 63 year old you certainly must know that to win a fight you can not win is to give up the lost fight and look for alternatives. I would not have said that 3-4 months ago but I foresee that before 2020 the situation will be drastically different as the new generation will take over, that's for sure. We are living now in a transition period, a fight between the old 80's and 90's pre-internet generation and the new 2005+ generation and it's better to give up now and find new solutions than being excluded from the innovatory process and laughed at for not recognizing the inevitable.

Also... one might wonder living in a world with strong source code all over the internet just a few mouse clicks away if it is reasonable to demand new chess programmers to write everything from scratch (because we had to!!) while at the same time it is allowed for the established programmers to freely take from Rybka's legacy of 400 elo points and never mention it. It's too bizarre for words and hypocritical. It's much better to have a transparent CC world with new rules, whatever those rules will be eventually.

Seriously, the time will come the new generation of chess programmers will give us oldies the middle finger for not using what's freely available blocking progress. We would like as those farmers refusing to use milk machines and go bankrupt for not recognizing the times.

Also put yourself in their shoes as an 20 year young university student anno 2011 fascinated by CC, would you start from scratch because a couple of old men want that ?
We can see this as yet another example of software evolution/maturation and evolving associated practices in software engineering.

Ideally you should write every part of a chess engine to really understand everything.

Now, why not being even more ambitious and rewrite everything, including e.g. your own hash function or even more extreme a quicksort implementation whenever there are arrays to sort?

Most will just view this as irrelevant, being concerned only by chess and will not have one second thought at using a standard library for some function implementation.

Now take the opposite stance and think about how you could make a contribution without having to reinvent the wheel and spend 5 years in that little project?

Going from a good, if not the best source code available and seeing it as a kind of library or toolkit to begin with and try to improve it or build upon it some missing part
(e.g. an innovative position learning algorithm) sounds legitimate too.

This is a natural evolution in a complexified and maturing (software) ecosystem.

To be fair you just have to acknowledge what you reused and what is your specific contribution.

All in all, Ed sounds eminently pragmatic in his assessment of the current situation and I fully agree with his conclusions.

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:32 pm
by jdart
I think you are right that the computer chess world has changed, in a significant way.

I agree that progress comes from building on prior foundations and this is as true or more true in computer science than in other fields.

But I don't think computer chess is being held back by not accepting derived programs.

The recent controversies have been mainly over re-use of licensed or copyrighted code hin a way that is probably illegal (I say probably because no one has tested the issue in court) to obtain profits from closed-source programs. This is problematic. (There have been many non-computer chess programs with similar controversies - the current Google vs. Oracle lawsuit is an example, although that is mostly about patents I think).

If you're an amateur and want to build a strong program based on something else, you can always pick a clearly original and GPL licensed program like Stockfish as a base, and release your modified source, as GPL requires. So no one is unable to do this - the issues come in when GPL is ignored and the origins of a program are misrepresented, or when the source program is one of the "gray area" ones whose origins are obscure.

I personally don't care for GPL and would like to see a really strong and legally clean program under the Apache license or something similar, and then some legal issues would go away - Apache doesn't care if you use their code in an open- or closed-source project, but there's an attribution clause - so you have to acknowledge that you are using it. So then everybody who wants a closed source program, for commercial reasons or whatever, could start from this basis, and all they'd have to do would be to acknowledge they used it as a starting point, in whole or part.

Problems arise because there's no effective way to prevent improper (i.e. not according to license) cloning and there are also amateur programmers who just don't understand the right and wrong way to re-use an existing program, or don't care.

Other issues arise because computer chess has been a competitive field and there are tournaments that want to exclude derived programs. I don't see any easy fix for this, but actually I don't care very much what ICGA etc do - I've never been in an ICGA tournament. (I think the competitive aspect of computer chess warps a lot of the discussions about it - there really isn't any other field of computer science that has this dimension).

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:41 pm
by Rebel
hgm wrote:I think you are completely wrong about this.

People still do long-distance running, although it is not a competitive method to get anywhere. Simply because it is fun to do. And those who do it best are highly respected by society. Major marathons do not get less attention and don't have any fewer fans than Formula 1 racing, despite the fact that the cars go som 15 times faster.

Writing Chess engines is just like that. There exist more than 500 engines, and the overwhelming majority of their authors never had the ambition to be the best or to be World Champion. They do it out of curiosity, and because it is fun. Many of those would not think it fun to make some marginal improvements to someone else his code. That sounds more like work...

So there will always be a community of original authors, and they will still be interested in having contests.
HGM, if you are saying you like the 80's and 90's situation better then we are in agreement. But anno 2011 rule #2 has become unenforceable.

Don't get me wrong, I dislike the situation as much as you do and like you I will refrain from copying as there (indeed) is no fun in that.

I am only predicting what is coming and we better are ready for it. Some day a smart business guy might notice the gap the ICGA left and will organize his own world championship. It's what people want, to see the strongest engines of the planet competing.

Re: The near future of computer chess

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:50 pm
by Gian-Carlo Pascutto
Rebel wrote: Also put yourself in their shoes as an 20 year young university student anno 2011 fascinated by CC, would you start from scratch because a couple of old men want that ?
Two pensioners arguing against each other by putting themselves in the shoes of 20 year old university students. Only on CCC.

Please, let the 20 year olds do their own talking, they tend to have big mouths anyway. If there are much left - they can and do vote with their feet, too.