Monday, July 27, 2015

Malcolm Gladwell is Skeptical of Big Data

Professional contrarian Malcolm Gladwell gave a talk recently in which he questioned the value of the enormous databases being accumulated by tech companies:
To summarize the problem, Gladwell recounted the study a psychiatrist performed on some peers in which the information provided by the study’s author increased over time.

Giving more data to the experts resulted in almost no change in the probability that they would give the correct diagnosis, the study found.

But when studying their confidence in a diagnosis, more data led to a stronger conviction that the diagnosis was correct, so more data might lead them to make stronger recommendations to patients.
I'm thinking of putting that on my office door or my email footer or some such prominent place: giving the experts more data resulted in no change in the probability that they would be right.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Beyond a limit of analytic capacity, additional information just becomes noise - and humans are very bad at evaluating their limits.