Advances in technology, big data and analytics hold the promise to significantly augment our judgement and expertise and help us make smarter, more effective decisions. But, as we contemplate these exciting innovations, it’s good to take a step back and ask ourselves a few basic questions: How do we make decisions in the first place? What goes on in our minds when we are making decisions, from the simplest to the most complex?
I heard a fascinating talk by Daniel Kahneman that directly addressed these questions at the IBM Cognitive Systems Colloquium which I attended last month. Kahneman is Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University and Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics “for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty.”
The talk was based on his 2011 bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow. The book explains the major discoveries by psychologists and cognitive scientists over the past several decades that have led to our current understanding of judgement and decision-making. In particular, it describes the pioneering work of Kahneman and his long time collaborator Amos Tversky, who died in 1996.