I was listening to a podcast where this poker champion smugly noted that computers can beat the best chess players but they can’t beat the best poker players. The subtext seemed to be that chess champions are just robots, while poker requires real intelligence.

But in fact computers can beat poker players one on one, but because poker is usually played with more people does the number of possibilities become too much for a computer to process. But chess can also be played with more than two people. How well would a computer do then?

I suspect that six person chess would be a much better test of intelligence than regular chess, not least because it’s been much less studied, so players would be forced to adapt, instead of relying on over-learned algorithms invented by others. It would also require social intelligence, in that you’d have to infer who might be an ally.

It is interesting to ask what is it about the human mind that it allows it to dominate even the fastest computers and when did this ability evolve? Perhaps there are some problems so complex that we no amount of processing power is enough, so we evolved the capacity for certain shortcuts, and perhaps one of those shortcuts is analogical thinking: This reminds me of that.

It’s interesting that representational art does not appear in the archeological record until 40,000 years ago and this is often thought to be the start of human culture. What makes art significant is it’s the first time we get evidence of humans thinking analogically. A stick man may have little resemblance to a human, yet the sticks at the top are analogous to arms and the sticks at the bottom are analogous to legs. Analogical thinking.