Can you solve the chess problem which holds key to human consciousness?

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor 14 March 2017 • 12:01am

It might look like a simple chess problem, but this puzzle could finally help scientists uncover what makes the human mind so unique, and why it may never be matched by a computer.

75 years after Bletchley Park sought codebreakers in the Second World War by placing a crossword in The Telegraph, scientists are again inviting readers to pit their wits against a new conundrum to find the quickest minds.

The puzzle coincides with the launch of the new Penrose Institute, founded by Sir Roger Penrose, emeritus Professor at the Mathematical Institute of Oxford, who shared the World Prize in physics with Professor Stephen Hawking in 1988 for his work on black hole singularities.

The new institute, which will have arms at UCL and Oxford University, has been set up to study human consciousness through physics and tease out the fundamental differences between artificial and human intelligence.

If successful, it could prove for the first time that the human brain is not simply a gargantuan supercomputer, but may exhibit quantum effects far beyond the realms of current imagining – a controversial theory that many scientists believe to be impossible.

The chess problem – originally drawn by Sir Roger – has been devised to defeat an artificially intelligent (AI) computer but be solvable for humans. The Penrose Institute scientists are inviting readers to workout how white can win, or force a stalemate and then share their reasoning.

The team then hopes to scan the brains of people with the quickest times, or interesting Eureka moments, to see if the genesis of human ‘insight’ or ‘intuition’ can be spotted in mind.