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09th December 2021

Fellow Associate Professor Rachel Fraser discusses Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement

On 25 November, Exeter College Tutorial Fellow Rachel Fraser, Associate Professor in Philosophy, took part in a special online seminar discussing the exciting new book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement. The panel featured Noise authors Daniel Kahneman, Cass Sunstein and Olivier Sibony along with academics and industry experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Law and Computer Science.

Noise is a revolutionary exploration of why people make bad judgments and how to control both noise and cognitive bias. Imagine that two doctors in the same city give different diagnoses to identical patients – or that two judges in the same court give different sentences to people who have committed matching crimes. Now imagine that the same doctor and the same judge make different decisions depending on whether it is morning or afternoon, or Monday rather than Wednesday, or they haven’t yet had lunch. These are examples of noise: variability in judgements that should be identical.

Kahneman, Sibony, and Sunstein show how noise helps produce errors in many fields, including medicine, law, public health, economic forecasting, food safety, forensic science and bail verdicts. Although noise can be found wherever people make judgments and decisions, individuals and organisations commonly ignore its role in their actions and show ‘noise neglect.’ Noise explains how people can reduce noise and bias and make far better decisions with a few simple remedies. 

The online event was presented by the Univesity of Oxford’s Institute for Ethics as part of their Ethics in AI Colloquium series. The institution is a new area of vibrant research that confronts the ethical implications of AI, bringing together world-leading philosophers and other experts in the humanities with the technical developers and users of AI in academia, business and government. 

Watch the Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement discussion on the Ethics in AI YouTube Channel.

Ethics AI Event Graphic

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