Our law makers, our doctors, our artists, our engineers, and others make decisions every day without the complete information available on a topic. And the amount of information grows daily on any given topic. On TED:

Melissa Garren: The sea we’ve hardly seen is video I was watching when Melissa said something I have known for many years, but never had the thought I had when I was listening to her. The quote is between 30 to 45 seconds into the video which you can watch here

My thought:

If we keep collecting data on every topic known (and some currently unknown topics), and we as humans cannot hold in our minds all the data know on any given topic (let alone holding all the information known at a given time), how can we overlook the mistakes we make from lack of information and its understanding. The increase in information and understanding  increases our perception of the mistakes we made out of ignorance becomes more acute IF WE HAVE SOMEONE WHO HAS THE RELEVANT DATA ABOUT A PARTICULAR MISTAKE IN MIND AT THE TIME S/HE IS CONTEMPLATING THE MISTAKE.

The question:

That is very rare. We do not have many people who have even close to the amount of data available on a given topic. So, if we did have someone who could contain the data and understand it, we would minimize the mistakes we would make. Computers can hold many more times the data our minds can hold (almost limitless) and we can teach them to understand. So, why not let our computers start making decisions now and compare the decisions to a human's decisions on a particular topic?

Medicine would be a good place to start.

Any takers?

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Comment by Cane Kostovski on May 29, 2012 at 6:13pm

Hmmm. Hal 9000 and I, Robot. Fiction that may become reality? In Hal's case, it really was human error. If you remember, it was politicians keeping secrets from the crew that caused Hal to lie and feel guilty and become psychotic.If we humans learn to be our best, we can probably count on our tools being their best.

As for I, Robot. He was the first one with feelings and he was framed for murder. He really wasn't the bad guy. People were (if I remember it right).

I live in Detroit and the auto industry is big here. I don't know why I didn't think of your example, Chris. I agree about moral decisions, but practical decisions are made much more than moral decisions each day, wouldn't you say?

Yes, Loren, I know about Watson. I seen the show about "him" on PBS a couple of times. I am House's twin :).

Yes, I agree Wrtie4u. Just like the law enforcement agencies making big strides in sharing information (I think their shared information is restricted to murders and other extreme crimes). I think it would be great if the USA followed South Korea and made a law that everyone in the whole country would have superfast internet connectivity. That would help every collector of data share with other collectors of data especially if they all were connected to the same superfast backbone.

Hey Glen, I haven't much thought of how doctors and others in the medical fields would be affected, but if the computers became really competent, that might lower malpractice suites and the insurance payments might go down too? There are many sides to this and I bet it would get to be a pretty good mud fight, but in the end, people in the medical field would accept the help.

Comment by ChrisC on May 29, 2012 at 5:42am

In the world of automotive engineering (specifically, low volume specials), we sometimes use a form of CAE analysis which includes automatic feedback and design iteration which can be very useful in designing structures such as the ribbing in cast components, bracing in frames, etc. We will most often take an educated stab at the design while the solvers churn over, and compare the results with our own attempt. It's rare that the designs are completely different, but when they are, they often make a lot of sense.

I'd suggest that this is a very basic level of computer "decision making", since it only involves fairly straightforward geometric, stress and harmonic calculations, but it's an interesting experience to let a computer run with a design and see what comes out the other side!

I think any decisions regarding moral concepts might be a bit more tricky to trust or compute...

Comment by Loren Miller on May 28, 2012 at 6:20am

Actually, computers are already being proposed as diagnosing tools.  Do you remember "Watson," who played two former champions on Jeopardy?  As I understand it, there is already a program on to load Watson with the necessary diagnostic parameters for known diseases and disorders to facilitate dealing with potentially confusing medical cases.  This is relatively recent news, so I don't imagine the project is very far along.

Still ... watching Watson at work is likely not going to be as entertaining as "House"...

Comment by Frankie Dapper on May 28, 2012 at 1:02am

God, you are assuming that access to more date will result in better decisions. Not always the case. Certainly not with ourselves; flawed humans.

The medical community is going to be real keen on being replaced, dont you think? Countless hours in medical school, tuition, a ticket to status and livelihood. And if we are to have a meritocracy why stop with medicine? ULTIMATELY, lets surrender autonomy to our inanimate friends in artificial intelligence. That is a form of faith.

Just accept the plain truth that humans with their warm embrace of superstition and of all that is contrary to self-interest are destined to live out their FUBAR existence. Shit aint getting better but it is changing rapidly. So enjoy the show.

Interesting video.



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