Data Driven Decision Making: Trusting the Outcome of Algorithms

Dateline: August 25, 2017

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

We are all technologists of one form or another.  We use, understand and often create technologies that we and others use.  But recently an insightful Sloan Management Review article, titled  When People Don’t Trust Algorithms , caught my attention.  The article, University of Chicago professor Berkeley Dietvorst shares his thoughts on the role of human judgment in decision making.  In it, he suggests,

Most people in my experiment used human forecast by default, which positions the algorithm as an alternative. And the way they make the decision about whether or not to use the algorithm is by asking, “Will this algorithm meet my performance goal?” even if that goal is unrealistic for human forecasts, too. They don’t choose the algorithm if it won’t meet some lofty goal.

What they should more reasonably ask is, “Is this algorithm better than me?” — which it usually is. So people fail to ask the right question and end up holding the two options to different standards.

It’s an interesting point of view of the use of algorithms.

How often do algorithms ‘get it right’ in your decision-making experiences?  How often do you override an algorithm’s result and follow your ‘gut’ instead?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a great weekend!

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