The first man vs. machine showdown happened on a checkers board.

In 1961, Arthur Samuel, the father of "machine learning," taught an artifical intelligence (AI) program to beat the fourth-ranked checkers player in the country.

Samuel had both academia and private tech to thank for his success. His career took him from MIT to Bell Telephone Laboratories to the University of Illinois to IBM, where his checker program demonstration raised the company's stock by 15 points. At his last gig, he taught PhD students at Stanford.

Today, machine learning experts are training programs to take on much bigger challenges than checkers—from trading stocks...

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About the Author:

Anil Kamath is an Adobe Fellow and VP of Technology.