The combination of machine + human intelligence. 


New York City, May 1997
Sixth and final game in the rematch between world chess champion Garry Kasparov and IBM supercomputer Deep Blue.

Deep Blue famously wins the game.



Leon, June 1998

The first Advanced Chess event held between Garry Kasparov (+ Fritz 5), and Veselin Topalov (+ ChessBase 7.0).

Nowadays, advanced chess (sometimes called Centaur Chess


In other words... 

Centaurs use the most of technology AND humans

Humans excel at:

  • Creativity, Adaptivity, Intuition

Technology excels at: 

  • Consistency, Objectivity, Precision




The individual strengths of a computer chess program lie in:

  • being able to calculate at a fascinating speed - on an average PC of today, a chess program is able to calculate a few millions of positions per second, making it tactically superior to any human in complex tactical positions;
  • having access to a database of millions of tried and thoroughly tested opening moves and variations, with the ability to retrieve information from such a database very quickly, and to store such a database on hardware resources available to most modern PCs;
  • having built-in hash tables for endgames, allowing the computer to search very deeply, and in some sorts of restricted endgames, such as those with only five pieces on the board, the computer program has all the information it needs to play absolutely perfect chess.

The individual strengths of a human chess players lie in:

  • being able to construct meaningful strategic plans, taking into account the long-term quality of moves, which even the fastest PCs cannot foresee;
  • being able to discriminate meaningful moves from the meaningless, without wasting time on deeply calculating the combinations which can be deemed meaningless at first sight;
  • being able to critically judge and analyze a chess game, plan, opening or endgame.



(of advanced chess in particular, but centaurs in general)

  • increasing the level of play to heights never before seen in chess;
  • producing blunder-free games with the qualities and the beauty of both perfect tactical play and highly meaningful strategic plans;
  • giving the viewing audience a remarkable insight into the thought processes of strong human chess players and strong computers, and the combination thereof.



Defining quotes

There are two kinds of jobs now - jobs that you can do better with an AI assistant, and jobs that an AI assistant can do better than you.
Scott Santens

IA, or Intelligence Augmentation, is all about empowering humans with tools that make them more capable and more intelligent, while traditional AI has been about removing humans fully from the loop.
Brad Neuberg


Further reading

Tim O'Reilly (July 2016)
Don’t Replace People. Augment Them.

"Those weavers who smashed machine looms in Ned Ludd’s rebellion of 1811 didn’t realize that descendants of those machines would make unbelievable things possible. We’d tunnel through mountains and under the sea, we’d fly through the air, crossing continents in hours, we’d build cities in the desert with buildings a half mile high, we’d more than double average human lifespan, we’d put spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter, we’d smash the atom itself! What is impossible today, but will become possible with the technology we are now afraid of?

Alvin DMello (October 2015)
Rise of the humans: intelligence amplification will make us as smart as the machines
The Conversation

"In contrast to AI, which is a standalone system capable of processing information as well as or better than a human, IA is actually designed to complement and amplify human intelligence. IA has one big edge over AI: it builds on human intelligence that has evolved over millions of years, while AI attempts to build intelligence from scratch.

The Economist (May 2015)
The dawn of artificial intelligence

"The best players in the world are not machines however, but what Garry Kasparov, a grandmaster, calls “centaurs”: amalgamated teams of humans and algorithms. Such collectives will become the norm in all sorts of pursuits: supported by AI, doctors will have a vastly augmented ability to spot cancers in medical images; speech-recognition algorithms running on smartphones will bring the internet to many millions of illiterate people in developing countries; digital assistants will suggest promising hypotheses for academic research; image-classification algorithms will allow wearable computers to layer useful information onto people’s views of the real world.

Mike Cassidy (December 2014)
Centaur Chess Shows Power of Teaming Human and Machine
Huffington Post

Yes centaur — and Kasparov was apparently the first. Rather than half-horse, half-human, a centaur chess player is one who plays the game by marrying human intuition, creativity and empathy with a computer’s brute-force ability to remember and calculate a staggering number of chess moves, countermoves and outcomes. The centaur story is an elegant example of the way visionaries see the optimal interplay between humans and machines. Teaming the two in chess, experts say, produces a force that plays better chess than either humans or computers can manage on their own.

George Dvorsky (May 2013)
Humans With Amplified Intelligence Could Be More Powerful Than AI

The third step involves the genuine augmentation of pre-frontal cortex. This is the Holy Grail of IA research — enhancing the way we combine perceptual data to form concepts. The end result would be cognitive super-McGyvers, people who perform apparently impossible intellectual feats. For instance, mind controlling other people, beating the stock market, or designing inventions that change the world almost overnight.