In 1997, IBM created a computer that was able to beat the world champion Garry Kasparov for the first time and it only cost them $10 million to do it! Today, because of computing advances, commercially available chess programs running on standard hardware can consistently beat even the best human players. The cold, calculating precision of the machine is just too much for the human player.
Our deep-rooted mistrust of the coldness of machines prohibits us from turning over our most trusted decision-making to them. In the 2004 movie I, Robot, Will Smith’s character, Detective Del Spooner expresses this sentiment while describing an incident where he was rescued from a sinking automobile by a robot. The robot decided to save the detective instead of a young girl in the same situation based on a calculation of chance of survival. Regarding the girl’s low chance of survival compared to his own, Spooner says:
11% is more than enough. A human being would have known that.
Is there any reconciliation between man and machine? Surprisingly, McAfee points to recent research that a partnership between man and machine is not only possible, but may be the most powerful combination available. In chess competitions allowing any combination of humans and machines, it was found that a human plus a weak laptop were able to consistently beat even the strongest computers.
McAfee’s post is fascinating and worth a read. I encourage you to check it out.
So what do you think? Is it possible for humans to embrace a partnership with computers?