Garry Kasparov on Computer Chess and Enterprise 2.0

February 19, 2010 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Image Professor Andrew McAfee posted a very good business analysis of points made by Garry Kasparov in his Feb 11, 2010 New York Review of Books article on Diego Rasskin-Gutman's book Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind. Kasparov's summarized of his own thoughts as a Chess Grandmaster and world chess champion playing against - and losing to - IBM's Deep Blue chess computer. But the interesting part comes when Kasparov talks about a recent match open to grandmasters who were allowed to use computer chess programs of their choice to augment their own chess skills: "The surprise came at the conclusion of the event. The winner was revealed to be not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time." McAfee quotes Kasparov and continues:

My favorite aspect of these 'freestyle' competitions was the specific type of human creativity that led to victory. Instead of pure chess genius, it was something much closer to business process design brilliance. The overall winner was a team that contained neither the best human players nor the biggest and fastest computers. Instead, it consisted of "a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and "coaching" their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants."

Kasparov was surprised at this outcome and I have to confess that I was as well, despite my deep conviction that a well-designed process is a potent weapon. I didn't think that smart process design — in this case, a process for determining the "best" chess move — could overcome both cognitive and computational deficits. But it did, even in this domain where brains and calculations would appear to be the only things that matter. As Kasparov writes of this amazing result, "Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process." I think that's my new motto. - Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business Review, Feb 18, 2010

Read McAfee's Did Garry Kasparov Stumble Into a New Business Process Model for his excellent analysis and conclusions. I commented: Thanks for a great post on what it means to augment rather than automate business processes! Doug Engelbart devoted a lifetime of work to investigating how technology can augment the abilities people to address complex and challenging problems, including but not limited to business (see Engelbart links below).

The Kasparov quote also gets to what I believe is the heart of the Enterprise 2.0 value debate:

• ERP / MRP / BI and other enterprise IT systems deliver value based on optimizing flow of transactions, optimizing management of predictable processes, or providing analytic insight. ROI calculation for optimizing automated processes is straightforward - and managers are comfortable estimating the potential business value of better analytics.

• Enterprise 2.0 systems augment the ability of organizations to recognize and deal with opportunities, exceptions (and threats) which aren't predictable but have high enough value and occur frequently enough give companies who execute well a sustainable competitive advantage.

I believe the two points are connected. Expensive analytic and reporting systems are of little value if discoveries made can't be turned into actionable insights. Senior management should weigh how Enterprise 2.0 techniques can augment their people's ability deliver value using the expensive transactional and analytic IT systems that they already have or want to create.


Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010 Augmentation quotes and links

Enterprise 2.0 Schism Why I believe that Doug Engelbart and Peter Drucker are Patron Saints of E2.0

Augmenting Human Intellect: Remove the brick

ImageIn 1962 Doug Engelbart wrote the paper he calls his bible: AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT: A Conceptual Framework. It is both a roadmap of his lifework - and a white paper presented to ARPA and other agencies for funding. In 1962 Doug could not cite examples for the use of computer systems to augment the creative and problem solving abilities of humans - he was in the process of inventing that - but he could perform a de-augmentation experiment which he used as a counter example. He tied a brick to a pencil and demonstrated that his handwriting became much slower and much less legible. My paraphrase of Doug's research objective: Remove the bricks that limit our ability to write, work and communicate effectively by providing computer systems that augment people's natural abilities to write, work and communicate.

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart

Page Top