A Russian robot trained to play chess fractured a seven-year-old opponent’s finger during the Moscow Chess Open tournament.
This immediately conjures up concerns that the robot uprising has begun and this was a declaration of war against their flesh and blood creators, but rest assured, the reason for the unfortunate incident is far less nefarious.
Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, explained to Russian media outlet TASS that the child reached in and attempted to make a move too quickly.
“The robot broke the child’s finger—this, of course, is bad. The robot was rented by us, it has been exhibited in many places, for a long time, with specialists. Apparently, the operators overlooked it. The child made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried , the robot grabbed him. We have nothing to do with the robot,” Lazarev said, according to a Google translation of the article.
Chess has long been a stomping ground of artificial intelligence schemes. This particular bot is capable of playing three games at the same time, as can be seen in a video of the incident that was posted to Baza’s Telegram channel (and embedded above). It’s not extremely graphic due to the angle and low resolution, though it’s still unsettling, given that we know a child’s index finger was fractured.
According to Lazarev, despite the incident, the child ended up playing the next day and finished the tournament wearing a cast. As for the robot, this brings up an obvious safety concern. It’s not fair to put the onus on a child to ensure these things don’t happen, and the developers will have to rethink how they can avoid something like this or similar incidents from occurring in the future. This isn’t Battle Chess, after all.
Even so, consider this incident duly noted—anyone participating in an event against a robot opponent may want to consider an Old Glory insurance policy.