Understanding transformative effects of AI on the international chess community

Jan 20, 2019

How does artificial intelligence (AI) affect value creation and practices within markets, ecosystems, and communities? This study addresses this question by examining the transforming effects of AI on the international chess community. Chess is exceptional in having a longstanding relation with AI, leading to chess engines exceeding world champion skill levels over two decades ago. Since then, chess players have begun to embrace AI – embodied in powerful specialized computer engines and databases – as a resource to gain competitive advantage. With that, chess practices, including preparation and playing style but also the social patterns within the chess community, have begun to change as well. To better understand the multiple past and ongoing patterns and their underlying mechanisms, this research proceeds in three stages that make use of the measurability of and data availability for key constructs in chess activities – level of performance, degree of participation, and quality and style of play, each at the macro (cross-country-) and micro- (individual-) level. First, I will analyze quantitatively the direct effects of AI on  hess performance across different membership strata within the chess community. Next, I will examine qualitatively and quantitatively the evolving practices of chess with a focus on the role of AI. Finally, I will develop a computational model to examine the mechanisms underlying transformations within the community as affected by AI. Beyond the specific context, this work will have practical implications for our understanding of the transformative effect of AI on communities of practice. Theoretically this work will contribute to organisational theory research on community transformation, as well to strategy research on ecosystem transformation.