Published 21. Mar. 2017

Featured Expert: Garry Kasparov

One of the world's greatest chess players of all time wants you to stop wasting your time running away from AI and start preparing for it.
Internet of Things


 Catch Garry at the European Business AI and Robotics 2017

For political activist, former World Chess Champion and AI enthusiast, Garry Kasparov, “AI is rapidly becoming a part of every aspect of our lives, and it therefore must also be a part of every company’s strategy.”

Where to start?

“We must understand the limits of what’s possible now and what’s around the corner. This includes the vital area of human-machine collaboration, where human creativity and increasingly intelligent machines come together.”

But wait, how did a sportsman become interested in AI?

When Garry Met Deep Blue

“It started on the frontlines of the human versus machine chessboard competition in the ’80s — a battle that culminated in my matches against IBM supercomputer “Deep Blue” in 1996 and 97. Chess has long been considered an ideal laboratory to study cognition in both humans and machines, and it was my blessing and curse to participate in the grand finale of the decades-long quest to build a world champion chess machine,” shares Kasparov.

His fascination with machine chess, its potentials and limitations, and what it could mean for understanding intelligence continued, “After the Deep Blue matches, I created Advanced Chess, in which humans and computers played as a team — with remarkable and surprising results. I’ve also had the opportunity to discuss AI and robots in a lot of different venues, including the Oxford Martin School, which hosts the Future of Humanity Institute, where I’m a Senior Visiting Fellow.

He’s also been busy working on a new book, which traces the history of chess and artificial intelligence, “It’s about my own participation in the experiment,  my thoughts, and observations on our present and future relationship with intelligent machines. It’s titled, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins. It’ll be published on the 20th anniversary of the Deep Blue rematch: May 2, 2017.”

More Garry Kasparov and AI Talks at Tech Knowledgy 2017

Is AI a Friend or a Foe?

Thanks to sci-fi, people relate to AI in either the Dystopian or Utopian setup, wherein reality is distorted and events blown out of proportion, “Something as broad and powerful as artificial intelligence will always be misinterpreted, even by experts.” Kasparov’s appeal is for people to exercise caution or manage their expectations. That sure, AI will fundamentally change lives, as did electricity or the Internet, but they won’t be as catastrophic as whimsical as in the movies, “Some changes will be quick and obvious and others will be slow and subtle. If you can control your impulses, you can be in an excellent position to benefit from the changes, no matter how they manifest.”

Asked for what he’s learned from AI, “I learned that having an intelligent process is as important as having smart employees and smart machines. No matter how good our algorithms are, we can always find better and more creative and ambitious ways to use them. This is where the greatest area of impact is, finding wonderful new challenges for our wonderful new machines. Why make geniuses dig ditches when they could take us to Mars?”

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New World Leadership

In a hyper speed world, “The focus is on short-term results, but what’s needed is long-term planning, which, of course, includes taking risks that might not quickly pay off. And as changes accelerate, we must take more risks, not fewer, despite our uncertainty. This means being prepared to adapt rapidly, to deal with uncertainty, and look further down the road, instead of the stock price or the next quarterly report.”

As of the moment, everyone’s just talking about the importance of innovation, but few are willing to take risks. As for intelligent machines, they’re not yet significant in industries but, “There will be significant changes in five years, just as the business world has changed since 2012.”

Those are just a few of the new world challenges. How to overcome them?

“As was my watchword during my chess career goes: Preparation! Saying you don’t think AI is important to your business is like saying you don’t like a book in a language you don’t understand. Unless you have at least a familiarity with what AI can do today, you have no way to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities. You don’t have to become a tech expert, or learn to code, but you have to start familiarizing yourself with the potential of intelligent machines now, or you’re going to feel like the people who said automobiles, or personal computers, were a fad. You can outsource technical expertise, but you can’t outsource your strategy and vision.”

Garry Kasparov is the 13th World Chess Champion, Human Rights Foundation Chairman, Oxford Martin School Senior Visiting Fellow, and the author of “How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom” and “Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins”. 

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