Will Decision Intelligence Lead to Better Decision Making?

November 24, 2022

After years of hype, it turns out big data is not paying off as promised. Not yet. Marc Warner, CEO of AI firm Faculty, asserts, “Data-Driven Decision Making Will Fail—and Here Is Why” at Computer Weekly. Simply pouring through an abundance of data does not result in accurate conclusions. Warner turns philosophical as he elaborates:

“About 400 years ago, philosophers realized that collecting data to create understanding was a good thing. However, they also thought data alone was sufficient to establish how the world was and predict what would happen next – a process called induction. They thought a wider understanding of what was going on didn’t matter. Notice this is the same claim made for data-driven decision making – but we know a wider understanding does matter. Will stars appear in the sky because they did yesterday? Well, yes – for a while. But at some point, they will burn out. What was an obvious extrapolation is, suddenly, no longer true. This view changed with the philosopher Karl Popper, who said we don’t extrapolate inductively from data, because that’s impossible. In fact, we guess what’s going on, then find data to falsify that theory. This is a crucial change. Suddenly, the focus is the theory – not the data. This means the theory can be very different from an extrapolation from data.”

Not surprisingly, the AI entrepreneur believes the way to develop such theories lies in machine learning, specifically decision intelligence. Warner describes how his company used this approach to help the UK’s National Health Service wrangle an overwhelming amount of data to manage resources during the pandemic. The resulting decisions, he states, are credited with saving thousands of lives. It makes sense, of course, that accurate understanding leads to better decisions. Perhaps decision intelligence can get us there. But can this budding approach do anything to combat the stubborn problem of bias in machine learning? Nothing stops better, faster, and cheaper. More time to watch TikTok.

Cynthia Murrell, November 24, 2022

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