I came across an article in the April issue of Wired, Clive Thompson on the Cyborg Advantage.In this article, Clive tells the story of how, after having been beat by IBM’s Deep Blue, Garry Kasparov observed that “(H)uman smarts and silicon smarts work in very different ways” — “which gave Kasparov an intriguing idea. Instead of competing, what if humans and computers worked as a team?” So Garry …
“… created what he called advanced chess, in which players are assisted by off-the-shelf software. Each competitor enters the position of their pieces into a computer and uses the moves that the program recommends to inform their decisionmaking.
At a “freestyle” online tournament in 2005, where any kind of entrant was allowed, such human-machine pairings were absolutely awesome. In fact, the overall winner wasn’t one of the grandmasters or supercomputers; it was a pair of twentysomething amateurs using run-of-the-mill PCs and inexpensive apps. …”
Clive notes that
The most brilliant entities on the planet, in other words (at least when it comes to chess), are neither high-end machines nor high-end humans. They’re average-brained people who are really good at blending their smarts with machine smarts.
As we face that trade-off, figuring out how to integrate machine intelligence into our personal lives becomes the key challenge. When should you rely on online tools to fill you in on the news or your friends’ lives? When should you forage on your own?
There’s no one answer — and there never will be, because everyone is different. It’s a personal quest. But there’s also no avoiding the question, because it’s clear that serious cognitive advantages accrue to those who are best at thinking alongside machines.
Ultimately, the real question is, what sort of cyborg do you want to be?
This article is worth reading. It leads to the conclusion that the answers to performance (personal or organizational) lie not in ‘either | or’ trade-offs but rather in how we combine the power of machines and humans.