Mental shortcuts and AI

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345 words

I won a scholarship to study Negotiation at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I don’t think I had prior knowledge about the field, just some common sense terminology and ideas.

In the first module, we touched the topic of unconscious bias and heuristics. Basically, how the brain makes shortcuts by quickly identifying previous patterns.

I am passionate about AI, so I am naturally interested int he fact that the brain is capable of great things - and to turn those great things into bad decisions.

I see mental shortcuts as both positive and negative capabilities. Think about it. A positive shortcut is when we are learning new things as kids. Our brain is constantly using those patterns to learn new information very quickly. On the other hand, shortcuts can be the reason of the creation of stereotypes, not allowing us to integrate new information to what we already know. Difficult concept right? I can give you an example: underrepresentation of women in AI. I won’t elaborate on it. Just think about it. You’ll get the idea.

The brain doesn’t do this to harm you. Its is way to preserve the energy to work more efficiently. Remember, the brain is the most powerful organ we have and the one that consumes most of our resources.

How is this topic still related to AI? - I spend the day building complicated mathematical/statistical models, to help organisations (or myself) make better decisions. Naturally, the computer power has increased over time, so it has been trendy to create even more sophisticated models. But it is not always like that. To make a good and complex model you need good data, and you also need to understand it. If those factors are not taken into place, you shouldn’t bother creating something sophisticated that will eventually be trash. You can get surprised about the amount of Data Science solutions that are simply made with an extra intuitive sense, always giving an approximation as answer.

Algorithms are smart, but don’t forget a daily good dose of common sense!