Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek

Trending

Filed under: News | Technology News

 

Big Data Debates: Machines Vs. Humans

Jan 31 2014, 8:08pm CST | by

10 Updates
Big Data Debates: Machines Vs. Humans
 
 

Comments

Recommend Your Tweet as Top Tweet:

Full Story

Big Data Debates: Machines Vs. Humans

Are machines better than humans at making decisions? Andrew McAfee has formulated in the Harvard Business Review Blog yet another M-Law for the big data age: “As the amount of data goes up, the importance of human judgment should go down.”

McAfee reviews years of studies of algorithms vs. human judgment by various experts and concludes that we should not rely on experts anymore:  “The practical conclusion is that we should turn many of our decisions, predictions, diagnoses, and judgments—both the trivial and the consequential—over to the algorithms. There’s just no controversy any more about whether doing so will give us better results.” (Italics mine; explanation below).

But Tom Davenport argues, also on the HBR Blog , that “intuition has an important role to play… Neither an all-intuition nor an all-analytics approach will get you to the promised land.” Jeffrey Heer (University of Washington and Trifacta) is a bit more assertive: “Human judgment is at the center of successful data analysis. This statement might initially seem at odds with the current Big Data frenzy and its focus on data management and machine learning methods. But while these tools provide immense value, it is important to remember that they are just that: tools…  To ‘facilitate human involvement’ across ‘all stages of data analysis’ [John Tukey’s words] is a grand challenge for our age.”

Kate Crawford warned us last year: “Numbers can’t speak for themselves, and data sets—no matter their scale—are still objects of human design… Biases and blind spots exist in big data as much as they do in individual perceptions and experiences.”  Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, has concluded based on data from tens of thousands of job interviews and subsequent employee performance that “Big Data… has tremendous potential to uncover the 10 universal things we should all be doing. But there are also things that are specifically true only about your organization, and the people you have and the unique situation you’re in at that point in time. I think this will be a constraint to how big the data can get because it will always require an element of human insight.”

Providing a great example of human fallibility (we see only what we want to see), McAfee links to the interview from which this quote is taken to prove his point (in his second post on the subject) that an algorithmic approach to talent management “works so much better.”  Similarly, he links to the relevant Wikipedia article for the first expert he relies on to debunk experts, psychologist Paul Meehl . In his 1954 work, Clinical vs. Statistical Prediction, which compared the clinical or case-study method prevalent at the time to the statistical or “mechanical” method, Meehl argued­—the Wikipedia article tells us—that “the mechanical tool will make a prediction that is 100% reliable. That is, it will make exactly the same prediction for exactly the same data every time. Clinical prediction, on the other hand, does not guarantee this.”

So the “better results” in the McAfee quote above turn out to be the reliability of precise and accurate repetition. In other words, automation and the many improvements it had brought to our lives. If we narrow down “human judgment” to decisions such as when to shift the gear in your car, then McAfee is absolutely right and indeed, in most situations, we will have “better results” if we trust the machine.

For anything beyond shifting gears, however, why remove humans from the decision-making process? As a matter of fact, you can’t and you shouldn’t (as Meehl was very eager to repeat for more than 40 years).  Humans design the algorithms to begin with and embed in them all their biases and, in many cases, wrong assumptions. Humans are also the ones that are needed to change the algorithms, when they understand better (or they think they understand better) their biases and the answer to the question “why,” a question that machines do not tend to ask.

Both the statistical classification of mental patients and the alternative clinical method resulted in lobotomy for many of these patients in the 1940s and early 1950s. It was not only medically wrong, but also morally wrong. Humans, as in the case of lobotomy, may conclude that the decisions that were based on their algorithms were wrong. Can machines do that?

Finally, the trouble with decisions (of the non-gear-shifting kind) is that many times it is difficult to determine whether we got “better results” because the decision itself changes everything. The decisions by Google, the most data- and algorithm-driven company around, to first buy and then sell Motorola, cannot be evaluated because these decisions have changed (twice) the market for cell phones (and possibly other markets). What would have happened if Google has not made these moves? We simply don’t know.

Google’s shareholders should just trust Larry Page’s gut instincts. Yes, gut instincts, the ones that make or break CEOs and their companies. We may or may not get excited about Google’s grand plan to make our brains irrelevant , but could a machine have made the decision to acquire DeepMind? Does anyone believe that “as the amount of data goes up,” we should expect Larry Page to be replaced by a machine?

Source: Forbes

 

You Might Also Like

Updates


Sponsored Update

Update: 10

MRCB, Nusa Gapurna and PKNS settle suit over RM3 billion PJ Sentral project

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), Nusa Gapurna Development Sdn Bhd (NGD) and PKNS Holdings Sdn Bhd have reached an out-of-court settlement over the ownership of the... READ MORE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 21 2014, 2:53am CDT
 


Advertisement


Update: 9

Story behind Syed Mokhtar’s ‘RM2.25 billion tax-exempt’ Bernas deal revealed, says PKR MP

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – An innocuous written reply in Parliament has provided a peek into the cosy relationship between the Najib administration and Malaysia’s best-known businessman, Tan Sri Syed Mok ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 15 2014, 12:56pm CDT
 

More From the Web

Update: 8

Constitutional monarchy still murky concept

Source: Malaysia Today

After the RM4.5 billion land sale, the Sultan of Johor secured a 15% stake in MOL Access Portal (MOL) for RM396 million and took a 20% stake in Berjaya Times... RE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 14 2014, 12:37am CDT
 

Update: 7

Sultan of Johor’s RM4.5 bil backlash?

Source: Malaysia Today

49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Has Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s succession of big money deals over the last six months caused the tide of public opinion to turn against Johor’s royal palace? KiniBiz examines the... READ MORE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 8:49am CDT
 

Update: 6

Putrajaya denies carpet dealer given interest-free loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider Putrajaya today refuted allegations that Bank Rakyat had allowed carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan to repay a RM32 million loan without interest follo ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 5:44am CDT
 

Update: 5

Malaysia Spends Over $9 million on MH370 Hunt: Report

Source: NDTV

49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Malaysia has so far spent about RM27.6 million (over $9 million) on search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, ...
Source: NDTV   Full article at: NDTV Jun 9 2014, 3:12am CDT
 

Update: 4

Bill for Kidex likely to soar to RM3.4b

Source: Malaysia Today

The original RM2.4 billion tag on the proposed highway did not take into account the cost of acquiring the land mostly in the urban areas, claims an assemblywoman ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 9 2014, 2:51am CDT
 

Update: 3

MACC: No elements of graft in Bank Rakyat’s loan to businessman

Source: Malaysia Today

BET AWARDS '14 - Red Carpet
(Bernama) – The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) found no elements of corruption in Bank Rakyat’s RM32 million interest free loan to a businessman. MACC in a statement today said init ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today May 31 2014, 9:33am CDT
 

Update: 2

IHH Healthcare posts 25% rise in 1Q earnings to $62 mil

Source: The Edge Singapore

IHH Healthcare Berhad announced that revenue grew by 8% y-o-y to RM1.8 billion ($703 million) for 1Q2014 ended March, as earnings grew 25% YoY to RM15 ...
Source: The Edge Singapore   Full article at: The Edge Singapore May 29 2014, 11:29am CDT
 

Update: 1

Hasan Malek evades media over RM32 million Bank Rakyat loan scandal

Source: Malaysia Today

Elizabeth Zachariah, The Malaysian Insider The minister embroiled in the RM32 million Bank Rakyat loan scandal refused to take questions from the press today at an event in Kuala Lumpur.... READ MOR ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today May 28 2014, 11:42pm CDT
 

Shopping Deals

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Fox&#039;s &#039;Gracepoint&#039; Gets An October Premiere Date
Fox's 'Gracepoint' Gets An October Premiere Date
Gracepoint is Fox's remake of the UK drama Broadchurch and stars David Tennant and Anna Gunn.
 
 
Andre Johnson Being Eyed By 4 Teams
Andre Johnson Being Eyed By 4 Teams
Four teams are said to be interested in trading for Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, per NFL.com.
 
 
Michael Irvin's Wife Told By Cris Carter to Leave Him
Michael Irvin's Wife Told By Cris Carter to Leave Him
Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin revealed in a recent Dan Le Batard that fellow Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter told his wife to leave him at the height of his cocaine addiction.
 
 
iPhone 6 Will Feature Dynamic Haptic Feedback Technology
iPhone 6 Will Feature Dynamic Haptic Feedback Technology
Every touch is now going to get a vibration in your next gen iPhone