In The Art of War, Sun Tzu advised that one of the most important rules of warfare is to “know thine enemy.” At the chess table, the more you know about your opponent — how he has played in the past, his favorite moves, his strengths and weaknesses — the more likely you are to defeat him. Knowing these things requires sorting through a wealth of information — and that’s where computers come in…. 

     Kris says today’s chess players have absolutely benefited from the technology: “They are better players because of it, and they’re achieving more at a younger age. Bobby Fischer was considered an anomaly when he earned the grandmaster title at 15. Today, if you aren’t a GM by the age of 14 or 15, you probably won’t go far in chess. Talent will always matter, but technology is helping talented players learn faster and better.”

     What would a war game look like between a Boyd Machine(or just Boyd) and General Petraeus?  Or better yet, a general or political strategist with a Boyd Machine assisting in strategy and planning? These are some interesting concepts to ponder as militaries, companies, and politicians continue to seek that edge that will help them to defeat their opponents.

    If you look at the progression of machine development for Chess playing, Deep Blue was the end result of continuous improvements (kaizen) to the software.  Deep Blue ended up beating the human race’s top chess player and that is significant. It is a key point to remember when conceptualizing the Boyd Machine.

    Furthermore, I believe that Watson will at one point dominate Jeopardy.  It is doing very well now, and the four years of work on the machine is telling. Even if it doesn’t do it now, it will certainly do it in the near future because of Kaizen and because of Moore’s Law.

    So with these two examples of a machine evolution, is it a stretch to envision a computer defeating a top general or a team of generals in a war game? After all, war is the ultimate game of chess.

     I will take this a step further.  If not man versus machine in the endeavor of war, how about cyborg versus cyborg?  The way the human race is interfacing with machines in the present could easily classify us as ‘cyborgs’.  We carry around smart phones or cellphones, we check our computers daily and highly depend on both of these devices. Most humans have a hard time being away from their computer or phone, because they are so important to their lives.  This is reality.

    So with that said, imagine a general with a Boyd machine, versus another general with his machine?  Or a CEO hybrid versus a CEO hybrid.  You get the idea, and this is exactly the point of the various articles below.

     In the world of Chess, this reality has already presented itself. Will we see a similar future where strategists in political campaigns or military campaigns will be assisted by a machine for planning? I think so, because that is the natural progression, and the computing power is there thanks to Moore’s Law and Kaizen.

     Remember the rule of mimicry strategy?  Folks will copy the most successful strategies for winning, and add one little thing to it to give them the edge.  If everyone knows all the strategies and thought processes of all of mankind’s strategists and their opponent’s history, then what would give an edge to one side over the other?  Could a Boyd machine be that edge? Something that can analyze and synthesize faster than an opponent. Or help it’s human counterpart’s decision making cycle and come up with the winning strategies necessary to win that war, campaign, or competition in a market place? Interesting stuff.

    It would also be cool to see how such a Boyd machine would be constructed.  Take all of his theories and papers, as well as all of the material ever created in regards to strategy, and construct a machine that would think like Boyd?  There are plenty of individuals out there that could contribute as advisors to such a project. Best of all, it would be really cool to build a Sun Tzu machine or a Clausewitz  machine, and have cyborg teams war game against one another.  Al Qaeda or Taliban machines could be constructed as well, and I think war gaming in the future will greatly benefit from such efforts.  –Matt

Edit: 02/17/2011- Watson wins in Jeopardy, which to me is incredible because this was it’s first attempt! Watson won $77,147 to Mr. Jennings’s $24,000 and Mr. Rutter’s $21,600. Good job to the crew at IBM for building such an amazing machine.

Watson, the ‘Jeopardy!’ computer, has grander plans

IBM’s Watson Just Latest Edition of Man Vs. Machine Battle

The role of computers in planning chess strategy

The website for IBM’s Watson here.

TED: We Are All Cyborgs Now, Amber Case 

Watson, the ‘Jeopardy!’ computer, has grander plans


By Hayley Tsukayama

Watson, the computer that’s winning hearts and cash on “Jeopardy!” this week, is more than just a pretty interface.

David F. McQueeney, vice president of IBM Research said that Watson’s real applications are far more practical. The computer is actually intended to help users get a handle on unstructured data such as text, e-mails and in-company mail messages.

“We’ve been working for a long time about helping humans navigate a large amount of data, ” McQueeney told Post Tech in an interview. “There’s all kinds of incredibly valuable information about the way an agency runs in unstructured data, and we’ve been working for decades on extracting meaning and structure from it.”

What McQueeney hopes IBM can do by showing Watson off on television is let people know machines have evolved to the point where they can help humans struggle with problems without having to modify all the data for a computer.

“I’m so pleased that the ‘Jeopardy!’ producers agreed to work with us,” he said, “and I’m as pleased as they are that the result was good science and good entertainment.”

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