Archive for the ‘group’ Category

UCL MobiSys member to be one of the 2009 Anita Borg Scholars

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Congrats to Elisa who has been selected as one of the 2009 Anita Borg Scholars!

Experts tend to be hedgehogs and aren’t good at predicting

Friday, March 27th, 2009

From today’s NYT “Learning How to Think“:

“The expert on experts is Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His 2005 book, “Expert Political Judgment” (New Yorker Review),  is based on two decades of tracking some 82,000 predictions by 284 experts. The experts’ forecasts were tracked both on the subjects of their specialties and on subjects that they knew little about.

The result? The predictions of experts were, on average, only a tiny bit better than random guesses — the equivalent of a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board. … The only consistent predictor was fame — and it was an inverse relationship. The more famous experts did worse than unknown ones.”

Idea 1: This result partly explains why crowdsourcing may be more accurate than aggregating expert opinions.

(Project) Idea 2: Since “we trumpet our successes and ignore failures”, we need a system that monitors and evaluates the records of various experts and pundits as a public service

Lesson: “Hedgehogs tend to have a focused worldview, an ideological leaning, strong convictions; foxes are more cautious, more centrist, more likely to adjust their views, more pragmatic, more prone to self-doubt, more inclined to see complexity and nuance. And it turns out that while foxes don’t give great sound-bites, they are far more likely to get things right.”

The problem with web 2.0 crowds: imitative!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

I attended a talk by David Sumpter on “How animal groups make decisions” (hosted by Max Reuter). David is a mathematician working on self-organisation and decision-making based on simple rules. His team looked at behavioral rules that explain, for example, how birds fly together.

My take-away from his talk: Group decision-making may be better than individual decision-making ONLY if each member of the group takes decision indepedently. Indeed, idependence is one of the four elements to form a wise crowd. Alas, I think that social prejudices make it impossible to reach independent decisions in our society. Does this suggest the end of the wisdom of crowds?

Few scribble notes:

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