Author Malcolm Gladwell Examines Interface of Technology and Professional Bias
Popular author Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point, Outliers, and other books about various aspects of the human condition) posed that question in a keynote address at Convergence 2011, based on his contention that even the most seasoned professionals are prone to not inconsequential errors in their jobs. As a prime example, he pointed to new data showing that professional referees and umpires show bias toward home teams because these decision makers are intimidated by home crowds...without even realizing it.
As a result, he said, we need "some kind of balanced role for technology, that allows the best of human decision making." He identified three ways technology can improve decision making.
1.Technology can improve transparency. "We are not very good as human beings at looking at the decisions we make. We're not very good at explaining how we make a decision." He pointed to a tennis coach who has concluded that tennis players are unable to explain how they make certain highly skillful shots. "They tell you a story that seems plausible. Technology can help make transparency." For example, in the sports world, technology has been used to evaluate how major league umpires perform, and until it was pulled from major league parks in 2008, had improved umpire performance, Gladwell said.
2.Technology can simplify the decision-making process. He argued that professionals of all types do better when they have just a few variables to use in their decisions, and do much worse as the number of variables increases. As an example, he cited emergency room physicians who do much better diagnosing cases involving chest pain when they limit themselves to four symptoms (like elevated blood pressure and intensity of pain) rather than getting into long lists of issues involving lifestyle.
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