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Work WITH technology, not AGAINST it - lessons from Garry Kasparov's battle with Deep Blue

Millie Higham
19/03/21 09:56

At Tharstern, we believe that businesses are at their most effective when they invest in both humans and technology, and work to combine the two together. So we were very excited to watch Garry Kasparov’s excellent TED Talk on the subject, and how he came to the realization that we humans are stronger when we work with machines, not against them.

If you didn’t already know, Garry Kasparov is a former World Chess Champion, who spent many years playing against Deep Blue, a chess playing super computer developed by IBM in the 1990s. In 1996 Deep Blue  made history by defeating Kasparov in one of their six games — the first time a computer had won a game against a world champion under tournament conditions.

Garry Kasparov playing against Deep Blue 

In the TED Talk, Kasparov muses on how in the movies, human VS machine is often portrayed as a fight to the death, a battle against  technology. But even back then, he didn’t buy in to this mindset - from his experiences with Deep Blue, Kasparov understood the power of working with machines and what could be achieved by having them by his side. He knew what could be achieved by combining:

Human intuition plus machine calculation

Human strategy plus machine tactic

Human experience plus machine memory

By combining the strengths of both human and machine, Kasparov realised it would produce a more formidable opponent. So he thought, "If you can't beat 'em, join ‘em!"

The impact of this approach was made clear at a chess tournament in 2005 when a pair of amateur players won using 3 ordinary PCs, beating both grandmasters and dedicated chess computers alike. The amateur players’ skill in coaching their machines was more powerful than any of their competitors and Kasparov realised then that a weak player with a machine and a strong process is superior to anything else.

In the TED Talk, Kasparov goes on to discuss his very interesting theories about how we can work with machines to get the most out of technology, and these are definitely worth a listen to. You can watch it below.

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