Mastery at chess has been a proxy measure for human intelligence for centuries. So what did it mean when, in 1997, a computer beat Gary Kasparov, the highest-ranked chess master in history at the time?
The six-game tournament between Kasparov and an IBM computer, Deep Blue, was an international media story. Kasparov had beat Deep Blue the year before, but IBM engineers worked to improve their machine’s game for the rematch. In the end, Kasparov’s narrow loss proved he was only too human, while the triumph of the machine marked not a defeat for humanity, but an advance in what humans can accomplish.
Directed by Hollywood producer Frank Marshall, a part-time Telluride resident, The Man vs. The Machine documents a fascinating milestone in the relentless advance of artificial intelligence.
Before the X Games, there was Evel Knievel — the original daredevil showman built for the age of mass media. Was he an athlete, entertainer, rebel without a cause, hustler or just nuts?
Daniel Junge’s Being Evel suggests that he was all of the above, a product of his times and an American original. From a rough childhood in Butte, Montana, where he sometimes escaped arrest by outracing a patrol car on his motorcycle, Knievel found his big break on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” in which he demonstrated the thrill of victory in what became his trademark stunt: jumping his motorcycle over a long row of cars. Shortly after that, he embodied the agony of defeat when he crashed in the parking lot at Caesars Palace after launching over the casino’s famous fountains.
From that point on, he was an enormous celebrity with the singular shtick of cheating death. Being Evel celebrates Knievel’s indefatigability, but the hot-tempered spectacle that was Evel Knievel raises troubling questions — not only about Knievel’s gladiatorial exploits, but also about the lucrative enterprise of death-defying performer-athletes and the public fascination they command.