This is the 100th entry on the blog! Cheers!

After the 2012 US elections, statistician Nate Silver has known his fifteen minutes of fame when it appeared that his predictions regarding the results had been fulfilled despite the strong opposition by a good number of opponents.

Now, the same Nate Silver had previously authored The Signal and the Noise - Why so many predictions fail, but some don't, where he reports an anecdote about the 1997 Kasparov vs Deep Blue match (mentioned in the entry about the future of information science).

Nevertheless, there were some bugs in Deep Blue’s inventory: not many, but a few. Toward the end of my interview with him, [Murray] Campbell somewhat mischievously referred to an incident that had occurred toward the end of the first game in their 1997 match with Kasparov. “A bug occurred in the game and it may have made Kasparov misunderstand the capabilities of Deep Blue,” Campbell told me. “He didn’t come up with the theory that the move it played was a bug.” The bug had arisen on the forty-fourth move of their first game against Kasparov; unable to select a move, the program had defaulted to a last-resort fail-safe in which it picked a play completely at random. (...) Kasparov had concluded that the counterintuitive play must be a sign of superior intelligence. He had never considered that it was simply a bug.

Years later, at a authors@google talk interesting to have a look at in its entirety, Garry Kasparov (whose famous game against Topalov can be seen here) is asked if he relies on intuition to make decisions in chess[1]. His answer:

It's the most valuable quality of a human being in my view. Yeah, it's probably... we live at a time when we just want to touch something before we can make our opinion about the subject. I believe that intuition is like any other muscle. So, like people know that if you go to the gym you improve your physical conditions, they know that for training memory, there're also exercises, but intuition is the same. So you have to learn how to trust your intuition. My view is that we similarly undermine the importance of intuition because intuition means taking too much risk. And we, whether we like it or not, we live in a risk adverse culture. And intuitive decision very often cannot be explained into terms that should be required by corporate cullture or by your other family members. So, in my view, by adding this quality of intuition to the decision-making process, we can dramatically improve the results.

"Can intuition be developed?" is half-counter-intuitive, so to say, in the sense that people who have good intuition will say "yes", and people who have a bad intuition will say "no". Still, anyone can observe that a common quality shared by the chess player Bobby Fischer (evoked in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer), and the poker player Stu Ungar[2] (whose life is narrated in High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story) is that both had a very powerful intuition. Everyone can draw his own conclusions.


[1] The next question in the talk is about the importance of psychology. From Kasparov's answer: "It could actually work in a very strange way when you're facing the computer because many computers, even today, have their own strengths and own weaknesses. And if you can understand so it may help you to design the game which will be the most unpleasant for certain computer. Because it's actually machine, it might sound very odd, but machine definitely has a "personality" and it very much depends on the people behind the computer. So, some of the machines are playing more aggressive chess; some play less aggressive chess. And again, I don't know whether it's an irony or not, but the Israeli-made computers are more aggressive than the German-made computers."

[2] Stu Ungar, jewish, clever, lover of poker, died of a heart failure due to his excesses.