Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Advanced Chess

An entrepreneur once told me a story of the evolution of Advanced Chess, and it’s been rattling around in my head for awhile now.

Advanced Chess is a form of Chess where each player is allowed to use all possible resources at his/her disposal to make a move. One can use computer AI or ask friends for help. Anything goes.

The Grandmasters use Advanced Chess to help expand their minds in play. It allows them to get a different perspective on their typical Chess instincts. It’s useful in training. There are international Advanced Chess competitions.

In the beginning of Advanced Chess (I believe in the 90s), A single Grandmaster could beat a lesser opponent even if the opponent was leveraging Computer AI as a crutch. A single human could rule.

Post-Deep-Blue, Grandmasters could be beaten in Advanced Chess if their opponent had amazing Computer AI at their disposal. It was the rise of the machines. So the new unbeatable combination became a Grandmaster that leveraged Computer AI well.

But in the middle of the last decade a new winning combination emerged: a combination of Human Computation and Computer AI. The best Advanced Chess algorithms now start with a Computer AI recommended list of moves and then a crowd of expert humans vote on the best move. The combination of a crowd plus excellent AI can best a single Grandmaster plus AI.

I love this story. It’s another example of how Soylant Green (“It’s made of humans”) algorithms are taking over the world. I look for this characteristic in every startup I talk to. I consider it a special subset of a Network Effect.