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“I was the first knowledge worker whose job was threatened by a machine”

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Really interesting interview with Garry Kasparov in Wired magazine about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in the future.

Garry Kasparov is perhaps the greatest chess player in history. For almost two decades after becoming world champion in 1985, he dominated the game. Then, in 1997, at the height of his powers, Kasparov was crushed by an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue.

He says: “I was the first knowledge worker whose job was threatened by a machine.”

And today?

“1997 was an unpleasant experience, but it helped me understand the future of human-machine collaboration. We thought we were unbeatable, at chess, Go, shogi. All these games, they have been gradually pushed to the side by increasingly powerful AI programs. But it doesn't mean that life is over. We have to find out how we can turn it to our advantage.”

He’s optimistic about the future.

“Every technology destroys jobs before creating jobs. When you look at the statistics, only 4 percent of jobs in the US require human creativity. That means 96 percent of jobs, I call them zombie jobs. They're dead, they just don’t know it.”

Good idea to get rid of zombie jobs. A zombie job is an Uber driver – let the car drive itself; a zombie job is waiting tables – let the robots wait the tables; a zombie job is a ticket inspector – let the machines inspect the tickets; and so on.

Kasparov doesn’t give conjecture to the jobs of the future, but does believe it has to be a human-machine partnership.

“There are different machines, and it is the role of a human to understand exactly what this machine will need to do. It's about combination. For instance, look at radiology. If you have a powerful AI system, I’d rather have an experienced nurse than a top-notch professor use it. A person with decent knowledge will understand that he or she must add only a little bit. But a big star in medicine will like to challenge the machines, and that destroys the communication.”

So true.

A final comment really struck home for me.

“People say, oh, we need to make ethical AI. What nonsense. Humans still have the monopoly on evil. The problem is not AI. The problem is humans using new technologies to harm other humans.”

The reason it struck home with me is that, as Kasparov also puts it, the machines are only tools that humans use. Machines are not evil. Humans are. If they’re allowed to be. The machine will only do the job we’ve programmed it to do. If we allow the machine to run amok, it is because we programmed it that way. It we create machines with no ‘off’ button, then we are the ones who are stupid.

This is a message that needs to be communicated  better, and Kasparov is a very appropriate person to articulate that message for us. Well worth a read.

Defeated Chess Champ Garry Kasparov Has Made Peace With AI

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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