Confirmation Bias Isn’t a Bug, It’s Operator Error
A key cognitive bias isn’t a bug, it’s just operator error (and easily correctable by using reason as nature intended).
1. Science has good news on minds, for a change. A key cognitive bias isn’t a bug, it’s just operator error (and easily correctable by using reason as nature intended).
2. In The Enigma of Reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber (M&S), articulate an “argumentative theory of reasoning.” Their “interactionist” views contrast sharply from the prevailing individualist “intellectualism.”
4. An analogy between reason and sight can enlighten here. Eyesight isn’t a direct window onto reality. It detects limited wavelengths, needs many interpretative steps between received light and sight, and suffers optical illusions (that are tellingly not survival-threatening).
6. Our brains are built and “biased” to enable evolutionarily useful behaviors. And solving abstract logic problems is an evolutionary novelty (e.g., only possible after the invention of the technology of writing). So reason evolved mainly “to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.”
8. But, they emphasize, there’s no evolutionary sense in being predisposed to pigheadedly sticking to your beliefs. You’re often better off changing your mind and using better ideas from trusted others (cognitive division of labor). So we evolved to be persuadable (by sufficiently good, trustworthy, reasons), as M&S describe in chapter 15 “The Bright Side of Reason.”
9. M&S’s argumentative theory is often misrepresented as reason being like your inner lawyer’s win-at-all-costs “weapon.” But good lawyers know when to concede to stronger arguments. They negotiate in their clients’ better interests.
11. Not thinking too hard about your first justification and relying on the “epistemic vigilance” of co-reasoners is often a good division of “cognitive labor,” that efficiently generates better decisions (= clearly adaptive, if you can avoid being manipulated or misinformed).
13. There’s much more in The Enigma of Reason (e.g., intuition’s role in all reasoning, or countering “dual systems” views, see Kahneman). And more work is needed (e.g. on trust, power, and intuition-shifting processes) but M&S’s work—perhaps better called the “negotiative theory of reasoning” or “social theory of reasoning”— represents progress.
14. Individualist Enlightenment thinkers mostly haven’t enlightened us about our inalienably social minds. Rather, the “Age of Reason” has tended to promote unempirical, unevolutionary, over-rationalist, over-individualist thinking (=delusions).
15. Clearer thinkers aren’t blinkered by the aspirational projections of solitary geniuses. They see how extensive cognitive division of labor, and reliance on the minds of others, means we exceed the capabilities of our individual minds.
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.
- U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
- A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
- Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
The pizza giant Domino's partners with a Silicon Valley startup to start delivering pizza by robots.
- Domino's partnered with the Silicon Valley startup Nuro to have robot cars deliver pizza.
- The trial run will begin in Houston later this year.
- The robots will be half a regular car and will need to be unlocked by a PIN code.
Would you have to tip robots? You might be answering that question sooner than you think as Domino's is about to start using robots for delivering pizza. Later this year a fleet of self-driving robotic vehicles will be spreading the joy of pizza throughout the Houston area for the famous pizza manufacturer, using delivery cars made by the Silicon Valley startup Nuro.
The startup, founded by Google veterans, raised $940 million in February and has already been delivering groceries for Kroger around Houston. Partnering with the pizza juggernaut Domino's, which delivers close to 3 million pizzas a day, is another logical step for the expanding drone car business.
Kevin Vasconi of Domino's explained in a press release that they see these specially-designed robots as "a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," adding "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."
How will they work exactly? Nuro explained in its own press release that this "opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous delivery" will be available for some of the customers who order online. Once they opt in, they'll be able to track the car via an app. When the vehicle gets to them, the customers will use a special PIN code to unlock the pizza compartment.
Nuro and its competitors Udelv and Robomart have been focusing specifically on developing such "last-mile product delivery" machines, reports Arstechnica. Their specially-made R1 vehicle is about half the size of a regular passenger car and doesn't offer any room for a driver. This makes it safer and lighter too, with less potential to cause harm in case of an accident. It also sticks to a fairly low speed of under 25 miles an hour and slams on the breaks at the first sign of trouble.
What also helps such robot cars is "geofencing" technology which confines them to a limited area surrounding the store.
For now, the cars are still tracked around the neighborhoods by human-driven vehicles, with monitors to make sure nothing goes haywire. But these "chase cars" should be phased out eventually, an important milestone in the evolution of your robot pizza drivers.
Check out how Nuro's vehicles work:
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