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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 February 2010

Simon French
Affiliation:
University of Manchester
John Maule
Affiliation:
University of Leeds
Nadia Papamichail
Affiliation:
University of Manchester
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Summary

An article by Ian Ayres in the Financial Times Magazine of 1 September 2007 begins:

How can a mathematical formula outperform a wine connoisseur? Or predict how the US Supreme Court will vote more accurately than a panel of legal experts? The answer lies partly in the overconfidence of humans and partly in the fast improving powers of database analysis.

In many ways these sentences chart the course we shall be steering in exploring decision making: how we do it and how we could do it better. Many behavioural studies have shown that, while we humans may be the best decision makers on the planet, we are not as good as we think we are. We are subject to biases, inconsistencies and – dare we say it? – irrationalities in our decision making. We could do better. Therefore, it is not surprising, perhaps, that computers bringing advanced forecasting algorithms to bear on vast modern databases that bulge with fact upon fact are able to outperform even the best experts in highly structured forecasting tasks.

Of course, this is not to suggest that computers are more intelligent than humans (we designed and programmed them, after all!), just that they are more consistent, able to keep more facts ‘in mind’ and less likely to be distracted by some outlying fact that runs against the broad thrust of evidence or, worse, some personal pet theory. They are not prone to overconfidence. Experts tend not to notice their failures. They fail to moderate their future predictions with the humility of their past inaccuracies.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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  • Preface
  • Simon French, University of Manchester, John Maule, University of Leeds, Nadia Papamichail, University of Manchester
  • Book: Decision Behaviour, Analysis and Support
  • Online publication: 20 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511609947.001
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  • Preface
  • Simon French, University of Manchester, John Maule, University of Leeds, Nadia Papamichail, University of Manchester
  • Book: Decision Behaviour, Analysis and Support
  • Online publication: 20 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511609947.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Simon French, University of Manchester, John Maule, University of Leeds, Nadia Papamichail, University of Manchester
  • Book: Decision Behaviour, Analysis and Support
  • Online publication: 20 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511609947.001
Available formats
×