On June 14, 2024, D'Amore-McKim hosted the first in a series of events to address and celebrate the thematic pillars of our new mission, starting with a focus on leadership and technology in business.

As part of the D'Amore-McKim School of Business' recent “Beyond Boundaries: Business Lessons in Leadership Technology” event, Dunton Family Dean David De Cremer and Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov shed light on the evolving role of AI and its implications for society and business. Their conversation underscores the importance of understanding AI's capabilities and limitations while emphasizing the enduring value of human intuition and decision-making.

While it was their first time meeting in person, De Cremer and Kasparov had previously co-authored three papers and collaborated on two events.

“Since we started our collaboration, so much has changed. We met during the COVID era, and now, as we emerge from it, the world has transformed once again… With the rapid changes in recent years, how do you perceive AI's role in society now?” said De Cremer, starting the conversation.

Kasparov said he believes increased access to information, which he did not have growing up in the Soviet Union, has created myths–one of which is around AI.

“AI is often seen as a panacea. When we discuss ethical AI, it seems we want to shift our responsibilities to machines. But like a mirror reflecting our flaws, AI simply highlights our societal issues. Addressing these issues requires human effort, not distorting the mirror. We must acknowledge past mistakes instead of hiding them,” he said.

He has firsthand experience with AI's impact on jobs. In 1997, he lost a rematch against Deep Blue, marking the first time a machine threatened a knowledge worker's job.

“Initially, this loss felt catastrophic, but it led to the concept of advanced chess—human plus machine versus another human plus machine,” he said. “This led to what is now known as Kasparov's Law: a weaker player with an ordinary machine can beat a stronger player with a faster machine if they leverage synergy effectively. This principle extends beyond chess.”

He said that by 1997, Deep Blue's victory was hailed as a triumph for AI, yet it was “as intelligent as an alarm clock, a very expensive one, a $10 million piece.”

“The quality of those moves, celebrated then, would seem primitive today. Subsequent matches against computers ended in draws, revealing that machines would dominate closed systems with fixed rules. This is positive, as it clarifies our limitations.”

“Machines cannot transfer data between closed systems; only humans can. Recognizing our limitations is crucial. In decision-making, machines outperform humans in most cases, but human expertise and judgment are vital in the remaining instances.”

Integrating AI in Business

De Cremer then asked for Kasparov's perspective on how business should integrate AI. “With AI's rise, its integration into various fields, including business, is evident. Business environments are volatile, dynamic, and uncertain—more open than closed systems like chess,” he said.

“It's about understanding human psychology,” Kasparov responded. “In business, AI integration decisions rest with leaders. There's no universal solution. Magnus Carlsen, a chess prodigy, used computers to validate his decisions rather than succumb to pressure. In business, the challenge is knowing when to stop data collection and make decisions. It's about intuition and incorporating human qualities at the right moments.”

De Cremer nodded. “I love that perspective. It aligns with developing unique human qualities in our students.” He then asked, “How do you foresee AI evolving, and what will its future impact on society and business be?”

“A couple of years ago, there was hysteria about AI being the end of the world,” Kasparov explained. “Now, it has reached a plateau. AI's trajectory mirrors other technologies—initial excitement, then stabilization. Intelligent machines should enhance human intelligence. With tools like ChatGPT, the key is asking the right questions. Our role is to ask the right questions, guiding AI's application effectively.”

After a lively question-and-answer period between Kasparov and the audience, the event continued with an engaging panel discussion featuring esteemed faculty, alumni, and corporate partners who explored the critical issues surrounding AI and business leadership. The event as a whole underscored D'Amore-McKim's renewed mission to equip students with the agility, ethics, and vision to harness the power of AI and other emerging technologies, which was highlighted at the start of the event.

Northeastern chess club representatives (pictured left) with Grand Master Garry Kasparov and Dean David De Cremer (right).