The Mystery of Mastery



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The Turk

Duc Pham makes a good point when he says many of us, although striving for mastery, will have to settle for just being very good, (Commercial Micro Manufacturing International Vol 6 No. 2 The Mastery of Mystery).
However, his reference to the Turk reminded me things have come a long way since the 18th Century. To use a similar analogy, in the late 1990s IBM developed the Deep Blue chess playing computer which defeated Gary Kasparov, (the reigning chess world champion at the time, and perhaps the best chess player the world has ever known).
The team which developed the programme were masters of the computer, and although a chess master (Joel Benjamin) was used as an advisor, no one involved on the project was capable of beating Kasparov. This points to a kind of transferred mastery, where mastering the computer can make you capable of mastering anything.
Computers have superseded mastery of virtually everything in the 21st Century. Both mystery and mastery have been removed from the equation. Anyone with access to the internet can tap into the thoughts of masters freely, be it on legal research or surgical procedure. It’s all there, at our fingertips.
One last point, to perpetuate the hoax of the Turk, Duc points out that there was a reliance on people being unable to imagine a chess master small enough to fit inside the machine – I doubt that had escaped Napoleon Bonaparte!
Yours faithfully
David Taylor BSc (Hons)

David Taylor more than 10 years ago