Garry Kasparov is a celebrated Russian chess grandmaster and a fierce long-time critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kasparov, who now lives in self-imposed exile in New York City, is in Toronto this week to give a series of talks and promote his new book, Deep Thinking: Where Does Machine Intelligence End and Human Creativity Begin?
CTV News’ Peter Akman caught up with Kasparov on Monday at Toronto’s Casa Loma to discuss Russian politics, the conflict in Syria, U.S. President Donald Trump and Kasparov’s longstanding interest in artificial intelligence (Kasparov, after all, famously faced off against IBM’s Deep Blue computer in 1996).
Here are a few takeaways from their talk:
PUTIN’S INCREASING INTERNATIONAL ASSERTIVENESS
I predicated -- alongside many of my colleagues -- that Putin, who was a Russian problem, would become a problem for neighbouring states and eventually for the rest of the world. Because every dictator, when he runs out of enemies in his own country, he looks elsewhere. Because from a certain point, a failing economy offers him no excuses to stay in power forever. So he needs confrontation with the free world and he will attack every soft target he can find on the map… For guys like Putin, chaos is the only way to justify staying in power.
THE DANGERS OF OPPOSING PUTIN
I know that no one is protected. But at the end of the day, what can I do?
PUTIN’S SUPPORT FOR SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD
An attack on Syria helped Putin to demonstrate that he could successfully defy the United States. Also, it produced refugees. What’s happening with refugees? They moved into Europe. They moved into Europe and they created political crisis. They create political crisis, they empowered ultra-nationalist groups in Europe that are Putin’s allies. And Putin hoped, so far in vain, that if they take over power like Marine Le Pen in France, they could help him lift sanctions that were imposed after Ukraine.
ON RUSSIA’S ALLEGED INTERFERENCE IN THE U.S. ELECTION
I don’t think he expected Hillary Clinton to lose… I think Putin’s plan was to make sure that she would be damaged: badly damaged, weakened… Rigged elections, in Putin’s mind, could really make America look bad and that could serve Putin domestically. Because the whole idea is, ‘Look, the American election is rigged, why do you want me to have free and fair elections in Russia if everything is rigged?’
TRUMP’S COMPLIMENTS TO STRONGMEN LEADERS AND DICTATORS
I guess Trump envies dictators because they can do things without endless consultations. You can see clearly that Trump is troubled by the political process.
THE FUTURE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
We have to find a way to co-operate. Because machines have unique qualities that, combined with our skills, could create the most powerful combination that will help us to enhance our decision-making process… Machines won’t make us obsolete -- our complacency might.
This interview has been edited for clarity and style