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.
Algos + humans are the future of consumer web services. Great enterprise software has been this way for years, and it’s finally coming to consumers because we’ve figured out how to get the prices down.