a year

How to Become A Centaur

This is an article (by Nicky Case) about humans, AI, and how we can work together instead of fighting each other. As usual, selection of quotes/quick summary on next pages. 10 pages, to be exact. But it's a lot less than reading the entire article, which you can choose to do so after deciding whether it's worth your time.

"in 1998, Garry Kasparov held the world’s first game of “Centaur Chess”. Similar to how the mythological centaur was half-human, half-horse, these centaurs were teams that were half-human, half-AI."

"But if humans are worse than AIs at chess, wouldn’t a Human+AI pair be worse than a solo AI? Wouldn’t the computer just be slowed down by the human, like Usain Bolt trying to run a three-legged race with his leg tied to a fat panda’s? In 2005, ... They invited all kinds of contestants — supercomputers, human grandmasters, mixed teams of humans and AIs — to compete for a grand prize."

"Not surprisingly, a Human+AI Centaur beats the solo human. But — amazingly — a Human+AI Centaur also beats the solo computer."

"an intelligence has to specialize ... And if you’ve ever had the displeasure of trying to figure out how to keep squirrels out of your bird feeders, you know that even squirrels can outsmart humans on some dimensions of intelligence. This may be a hopeful sign: even humans will continue to outsmart computers on some dimensions."

"tools didn’t just make human lives easier — they completely changed how humans lived. Writing especially: it wasn’t “just” a way to record things, it led to the creation of mathematics, science, history, literary arts, and other pillars of modern civilization...

a tool doesn’t “just” make something easier — it allows for new, previously-impossible ways of thinking, of living, of being."

"who won at the end of the tournament [were] not a human grandmaster with a powerful computer, but rather, a team of two amateur humans and three weak computers! The three computers were running three different chess-playing AIs, and when they disagreed on the next move, the humans 'coached' the computers to investigate those moves further.

Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process."


When you create a Human+AI team, the hard part isn’t the 'AI'. It isn’t even the 'Human'.

It’s the '+'.


"Numbers may be AI’s greatest strength — but numbers are also their greatest weakness. Right now, you can only train an AI if you have a 'cost function', that is, if there are quantitatively better or worse answers. This is why AIs have bested grandmasters at chess and Go ... but are awkward at best at having conversation, creating inventions, making art, negotiating business, formulating scientific hypotheses — where you can’t simply rank all your answers on a single dimension from best to worst ... In other words: AIs are best at choosing answers. Humans are best at choosing questions."

"So, when you think of augmenting human intelligence with AI, think less of assimilating into The Borg, and more of a spirited conversation between Kirk & Spock — a mix of intuition and logic that surpasses either one alone."

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United States of America, Fremont
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