Friday, January 15, 2010

Ken Rogoff on grandmasters and growth

My colleague Ken Rogoff writes about two subjects he knows as well as anyone: Grandmasters and Global Growth.

Drawing analogies from the great progress in chess playing computer programs, he conjectures that artificial intelligence will power a lot of economic growth in the coming decade. I'm a bit skeptical, if only because AI has been the coming thing for at least a few decades now (remember expert systems?).

Of course, this may be a quibble about the "I" in AI. Herb Simon used to complain that the goal posts were constantly being moved; whenever computers became good at something that used to be thought to require intelligence, then "intelligence" would just be redefined. In this regard, I've been impressed at the big strides that have recently been taken in cheap, fast computerized translation: it's still a long way from passing the Turing test, but you can now tell at least what a web page is about in a lot of languages.

We're already seeing a lot of growth of computer assisted markets of all sorts, including many clearinghouses of the kind I often write about when I write about market design generally, including some of the developments in this past year. So maybe Ken is right, and after we enjoy the economic growth, we can quibble about whether these computerized markets and products are really smart...

Update: the February 11, 2010 New York Review of Books has an article by Gary Kasparov, The Chess Master and the Computer that includes a discussion of human-computer teams, i.e. of computer-assisted chess.


Michael Nielsen said...

Google is an AI-based company.

PageRank, and many of the other algorithms they use - latent semantic analysis, statistical machine translation, and so on - either come out of the AI literature, or out of closely adjacent fields.

When I talk to friends who work on the academic side of machine learning / AI, Google looms large as a potential employer. Several have told me that Google is a major employer of graduating machine learning / AI researchers.

classic Motorcycle said...

Several have told me that Google is a major employer of graduating machine learning