The Trouble with Automation

We like to think of ourselves as master decision makers; as perfectly rational creatures, grounded in reason and logic. It’s a nice idea, but the reality is rather different. In truth, humans are a mess of competing incentives, of bad memories and of blind, impulsive biases.

The modern era of data analytics is, in some sense, an attempt to automate our decision making, iron out some of the fallibilities and biases built in to our choices. But decisions driven by data have blind spots too. And all this leaves us to a conundrum:  humans are flawed, machines are flawed. So who do we want to leave in charge of our decision making.  Who should be the ultimate arbiter when there are very real dangers of leaving any one side in charge?

This can be a session with lots of audience interaction, that aims to uncover some of the hidden flaws in our own decision making, as well as those of the systems we’ve built to replace us. It aims to explore some of the greatest ironies of automation, and puts into perspective some of the hardest challenges facing the future.


Dr. Hannah Fry
Dr. Hannah Fry

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