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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
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2010 Reads > TMIAHM: Human Judgment vs. Machines

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message 1: by Scott (new)

Scott | 9 comments I've just finished reading Ch. 6 and the three revolutionaries asking Mike for a probability of revolutionary success reminds me of the recent financial disaster. Complex derivatives, mortgage origination, stock market management, portfolio purchasing decisions...

These decisions were recently turned over to the wisdom of PhD. scientists, algorithms, and machines. Rogue hedge fund managers have turned over all decisions related to their portfolio to computers:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

Is this a way to avoid human judgment? Prof. Amar Bhide recently appeared on the HBR Ideacast and spoke of professionals (doctors, financial managers) and how they transferred decision making to computers to the detriment of their clients. He said computers were very good at organizing inanimate objects, but not so good at organizing and predicting human behavior.

Prof. Bhide was promoting a new book called: "A Call for Judgment: Sensible Finance for a Dynamic Economy".

I wonder if he is correct...

Have we transferred too much judgement to machines? Is this to our detriment? Do we need more human intuition and less algorithm driven decision making?

What do you think?


Kris (kvolk) I think that the problem is that humans abandon their thinking when you have sophisticated logic systems. To me the best system is one that includes the complex computer systems but also human intution is also in place to look for the big patterns that those systems miss. To often though people just abdicate all judgement to computer systems and follow it blindly. People have to look at info themselves and make judgements then see what the computer says.


message 3: by Joshua (new)

Joshua (JoshuaCaleb) | 38 comments That's a tough one. On one hand cold, calculating, decision machine are very accurate and efficient but they lack that creative, contextual human element. I agree with Kris, I think we definitely need both; after all, the world doesn't operate in a very logical and predictable manner, especially the people who inhabit it:)
What we really should have is logic, computing implants in our brains that can make solving complex equations or deciphering data easier but also allow for human instinct and out-of-the-box thinking.


message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott | 9 comments Joshua wrote: "That's a tough one. On one hand cold, calculating, decision machine are very accurate and efficient but they lack that creative, contextual human element. I agree with Kris, I think we definitely n..."

In some ways, handheld computing devices (For example, tablet PCs, cellphones) are calculating decision machines that are used on a daily basis. When I'm able to scan a UPC code in store and compare the price across different vendors, computing technology and human judgment meet in a positive way. The human is given additional data to make a better decision.

Nevertheless, with increasing amounts of information, it becomes harder for humans to differentiate between "noise" and relevant information.

I would like to know how technology can help people eliminate "noise" and allow humans to find applicable information so better decisions can be made.

Ramble on...

:)


message 5: by Joshua (new)

Joshua (JoshuaCaleb) | 38 comments Scott wrote: "Joshua wrote: "That's a tough one. On one hand cold, calculating, decision machine are very accurate and efficient but they lack that creative, contextual human element. I agree with Kris, I think ..."

That's a very good point, I completely missed the whole phone/pda thing. but I think the reason there is so much "noise" is our own fault. we're the ones who download all these apps and widgets and software to give us all this information. So I think it's us humans who need to simplify our lives and reduce the information overload:)


Kris (kvolk) I think filtering becomes the real issue with all the data at our finger tips now. Human decision making on how and what to filter becomes a crucial factor.


message 7: by Tom, Supreme Laser (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Merritt (tommerritt) | 1147 comments Mod
I think it's a developing symbiosis. It's not a black and white issue at all. The financial crisis, and complaints of information overload may just be growing pains as we come to terms with an entirely new tool we've never seen anything like before. This is like fire or the wheel and it's been around for a few decades. We don't know all the implications.

There's a great post from io9 about the developing symbiotic relationship between us and information (computers) and how that could lead to cities becoming a sort of self-aware entity. http://io9.com/5619183/could-self+awa...


Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments People always think of the Singularity as the emergence of super-intelligent AIs, but if you read Vinge's original essay on the subject, he lists several possibilities, one of which is intelligence augmentation -- using computers to supplement human intelligence. Eventually we'll just reach the point where our brains are part of the network.

We will become Borg, and it will be awesome.


message 9: by Joshua (new)

Joshua (JoshuaCaleb) | 38 comments Sean wrote: "People always think of the Singularity as the emergence of super-intelligent AIs, but if you read Vinge's original essay on the subject, he lists several possibilities, one of which is intelligence..."

that sounds scary and awesome at the same time:)


message 10: by Kris (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kris (kvolk) Tom wrote: "I think it's a developing symbiosis. It's not a black and white issue at all. The financial crisis, and complaints of information overload may just be growing pains as we come to terms with an ent..."

Tom you mention symbois and i think of an long running theme in scifi where humans develope the abilities of computers through implants or cyborgs, genetics, or computer helpers that makes the duality of the human\machine arguement go away. This is always been a favorite theme in scifi just because of the benefits it seems to give to humans. It also has a lot of many twists etc.


message 11: by Al (new)

Al | 159 comments Sean wrote: "People always think of the Singularity as the emergence of super-intelligent AIs, but if you read Vinge's original essay on the subject, he lists several possibilities, one of which is intelligence..."

Check out the Long Now / SALT podcast for a great talk by Vinge.

Brand (or someone) assigned him to talk on what might cause the singularity not to happen. He does and goes into some negative singularties as well, e.g. two opposed military super-computers escalate each other to awareness and in a few hours basically take over.

There's another in the series with Bruce Sterling bashing the whole singularity thing.


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