Garry Kasparov: 'We need to start asking the big questions again'

09 December 2013

© David Fisher

What does the future hold for human-machine integration? And will machines ever become intelligent enough to move forward without human assistance?

These were among the issues discussed by World Chess Champion, writer and political activist Garry Kasparov when he visited the Oxford Martin School last week. Mr Kasparov, famed for his chess matches against IBM supercomputers Deep Blue and Deep Thought, met Oxford Martin School academics for workshops on sponsoring innovation and risk, and the future potential of human-machine collaboration. He also delivered a talk, 'Human + machine: intuition and calculation in a new era of decision-making', in which he reflected on his battles with supercomputers, explored the possibilities of artificial intelligence and considered the potential of the internet to transform democracy.

Discussing whether humans had reached the pinnacle of their abilities, he gave the example of the continual improvement in 100 metre sprint times over the past 60 years. "I believe that with enough training and analysis of our experience, we can do a lot better than we are doing right now. We need to combine our creativity and imagination with the immense power of computers. I am a great believer that talent exists everywhere, it's about our ability or inability to discover it.

"We feel we have reached certain limits and there's a sense of completion. What we have to do is start asking the big questions again. We must also be prepared for failure, and realise that to fail is not failure, but a step towards success."