OK Computer: How computers will—and won’t—change the NFL

In 1996, IBM’s Deep Blue became the first supercomputer to defeat a chess grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, in a game. A year later Deep Blue edged Kasparov 3 1/2–2 1/2 in a full match. Why should you, a football fan, care? Because, as the late linebacker Junior Seau once said, “football is a chess game.” Deep Blue defeated Kasparov by brute force, scanning through 200 million moves per second. And, ominously, over the last two decades that computational force has only gotten more brutal. At chess tournaments played in Bilbao, Spain, in 2004 and ’05, a team of three computers defeated their human opponents 8½–3½ and 8–4, respectively. But that was two decades ago. modern smartphones make even Deep Blue look painfully slow: A Samsung Galaxy S5, for example, can perform…


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