The Burden of Computer Advice - Using Expert Systems as Decision Aids

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Authors
  1. Kessel, R.T.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Atlantic, Dartmouth NS (CAN)
Abstract
Where expert systems are not trusted to replace human decision makers, they have instead been proposed as decision aids. By reporting its automatic decisions the expert system naturally helps the human arrive at better decisions, or so the reasoning goes. On further analysis, one quickly discovers that the usual vision for decision aids entails contradictions that are confusing if not disabling. Computer advice invokes unfamiliar deliberation and ambiguity about its interpretation within the context of a particular decision and about system performance, for which neither decision makers nor system developers are prepared. Here we examine the problematic nature of computer advice, examining the particular the mechanisms (or lack of them) by which a computer’s decision becomes helpful to a human decision maker, identifying common fallacies in the decision-aid concept, setting minimum standards that decision aids must meet if they are to be useful, pointing to the crucial role of trust, and illustrating how system developers can integrate expert systems following rational principles of trust. Decision makers who have known the frustration of using expert-system decision aids should find confirmation of their experience and material for defence against system developers who do not appreciate the implications of the systems they propose, and developers should be redirected by this work toward more realistic and profitable principles of decision-aid design.

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Keywords
Expert systems;Decision aids;Computer advice;Human-machine interaction;Humanmachine systems;Human-computer interaction;Knowledge management;Intelligent systems;Trust
Report Number
DRDC-ATLANTIC-TR-2003-241 — Technical Report
Date of publication
01 Dec 2003
Number of Pages
60
DSTKIM No
CA023871
CANDIS No
521392
Format(s):
CD ROM

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