Lessons from Garry Kasparov on AI’s Future
It was a pretty shocking event in the history of AI, you may remember it? It was May 11, 1997, when chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov resigned after 19 moves in a game against Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer developed by scientists at IBM.
It took him many years to come to terms with AI being better, it appears. Garry Kasparov knows that “humans have a monopoly on evil”.
The event made “man loses to computer” headlines the world over but his comments to Wired recently remain concerning. He basically said that he’s not optimistic about human beings working like we do today in the future era of AI.
Kasparov, a chess prodigy from Azerbaijan, was a skillful chess player from childhood. He went on to become the world’s best player of his generation. However even rudimentary AI was able to beat him.
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Recently and every year since around 2015, there’s been a widespread recognition that AI won’t just impact repetitive tasks, but white collar jobs. There’s a bit more buzz about how AI and automation will change the future of work, and growing evidence and sentiment about how this could come about.
This is one of the reasons I founded The Last Futurist, a blog exploring these topics and the future of technology. When Singularity University bought out Futurism and Medium became a pay-to-play scam in the topic of futurism articles, it’s become much harder to find seriously good or Op-ed material on related topics.
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Wired interviewed Kasparov on the occasion of a debate hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. While not as noteworthy as what Elon Musk says about AI perhaps, it feels as if the older generations are sort of resigned to what AI will become.
”I was the first knowledge worker whose job was threatened by a machine,” says Kasparov, something he foresees coming for us all.
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”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. For several decades we have been training people to act like computers, and now we are complaining that these jobs are in danger. Of course they are.” – Garry Kasparov
While warnings in the future of work should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s clear that AI and automation and self-learning software will change the world of jobs dramatically in the decades ahead and it could be an existential shift for GenZ, who were told they needed a college degree where tuition rates have been growing 7 times faster than inflation since the 1970s. The joke is likely going to be on them, as AI evolves in their generation to replace some of their roles in society.
What is the big picture of AI and jobs? We’re going to have to make peace with potential disruption and career changes, just like Garry Kasparov who was on top of the world in his domain.
“I’ve made my peace with it. At the end of the day, the match was not a curse but a blessing, because I was a part of something very important. Twenty-two years ago, I would have thought differently. But things happen. We all make mistakes. We lose. What’s important is how we deal with our mistakes, with negative experience.” – Garry Kasparov
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In a world where most young workers haven’t had to deal with a major economic recession, technology monopolies automating their jobs doesn’t seriously concern them. When major tech companies plan to assault the healthcare field with AI, nobody seems worried. As retail and the media bleed jobs, nobody is asking serious questions. Just in 2018, Garry was saying how we live in chaos.
Twenty-three years after he lost to Deep Blue, Kasparov says people need to work with machines. If he can accept the intelligent algorithms into his heart, maybe that’s just how the world works now.
Kasparov sees humans as meek shepherds of the future of AI.
There are different machines, and it is the role of a human to understand exactly what this machine will need to do its best. … I describe the human role as being shepherds.” – Garry Kasparov
This is interesting as AI has in a materialistic capitalistic society become almost a religion. Take China’s quest to lead the world in that regard. AI is the tool that leverages state led capitalism above free market capitalism.
With a FIDE (Federation International des Echecs) score of 2800, and a streak of 12 world chess titles in a row, Kasparov was considered the greatest chess player in history going into his match with Deep Blue. He was the best human in his domain, ever. But AI didn’t have trouble dethroning him.
I find some of the quotes of the interview scary, scary precise in how AI will be weaponized by some humans against others. For example this one:
”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.” – Garry Kasparov
Authoritarian AI with the Chinese State and Big Technology companies evading antitrust are potentially harmful to human civilization, but we don’t think in those terms in a system where Capitalism rules. We don’t consider what the price for a dark side of AI might be to our children and future citizens.
I always say I was the first knowledge worker whose job was threatened by a machine.
Something tells me Garry Kasparov won’t be the last. What do you think of AI with regards to the future of jobs and future of work?