The book covered the story of Blondie24, an ai neural network that "taught itself how to play checkers without any a priori information beyond what a novice would have" -- essentially the rules of the game, that kings are better than nonkings to some degree, that it's better to have more pieces, and that there is a spatial relation between the various squares.
What would be really cool is stepping back one level further and having the software somehow apply its "knowledge" of checkers to some related game. That would truly be a step towards a general intelligence (at least, a general game-playing intelligence). And with all life a game, it's simply a matter of understanding the rules and the playing field. ;)
In almost entirely unrelated news, I had a good writers' meeting with some friends today. We discussed one of my older stories in some detail, and a set of another friend's (shweta) stories in less detail. I came out of that with a strong urge to write... but what? I'm slowly racking up stories that could use rewrites, and vague ideas on what to do with them. I'm not so sure of the worth of rewriting them, though. Imaginaries has a challenge due by the end of the 30th that I'm striving to find a plot for: "A villain is forced to play the role of a reluctant hero." Hmm.