Fear of Acorns


🔗 a linked post to collabfund.com » — originally shared here on

In his best selling book, “Range”, author David Epstein profiled a chess match between chess-master Gary Casparov and IBM’s Supercomputer Deep Blue in 1997. After losing to Deep Blue, Casparov responded reticently that,

“Anything we can do, machines will do it better. If we can codify it and pass it to computers, they will do it better”.

However, after studying the match more deeply, Casparov became convinced that something else was at play. In short, he turned to “Moravec’s Paradox”, which makes the case that,

“Machines and humans have opposite strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, the optimal scenario might be one in which the two work in tandem.”

In chess, it boils down to tactics vs. strategy. While tactics are short combinations of moves used to get an immediate advantage, strategy refers to the bigger picture planning needed to win the game. The key is that while machines are tactically flawless, they are much less capable of strategizing because strategy involves creativity.

Casparov determined through a series of chess scenarios that the optimal chess player was not Big Blue or an even more powerful machine. Instead, it came in the form of a human “coaching” multiple computers. The coach would first instruct a computer on what to examine. Then, the coach would synthesize this information in order to form an overall strategy and execute on it. These combo human/computer teams proved to be far superior, earning the nickname “centaurs”.

How?

By taking care of the tactics, computers enabled the humans to do what they do best — strategize.

I’m working on an upcoming talk, and this here essentially serves as the thesis of it.

For as long as we’ve had tools, we’ve had heated arguments around whether each tool will help us or kill us.

And the answer is always “both.”

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