Why You Don't (and Can't) Think Alone

Science (and life) keep hammering nails “into the coffin of the rational individual." But rationalism and individualism still haunt and systematically mislead—even about where your mind is.

Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

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Why Good AI Should Kick Your Assumptions in the Groin

AI is short for more than just 'Artificial Intelligence'. At this crucial stage in its design, we have to decide whether we want it to merely serve us, or to challenge and augment our many selves.

What if AI stood for 'Augmented Introspection' as well as 'Artificial Intelligence'? We've been given a precious do-over opportunity in this emergent time of AI technology, where we can choose to re-design our cities and our selves to align more closely with what we want those things to be. So -- what do we want it to be? Michael Schrage, MIT research fellow and innovation leader, thinks we need to push past the base-level notion of AI servants and assistants. What individuals need to succeed economically and personally are digital tools that can augment (or suppress) our selves — that's right, plural. Schrage's vision of AI is informed by theories of mind developed by cognitive scientists and behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman, Marvin Minsky, Robert Kurzban and Jonathan Haidt. "According to empirical scientific research, there's no such thing as 'the self'. In fact the metaphor that many people use is that your mind is like a committee, and that depending upon time of day and your mood... One self or aspect of the self may dominate over another," says Schrage. So what aspect of yourself do you most want to enhance and what aspect of yourself do you want to mitigate? AI will help you do that. It will not, however, be a passive pushover that bends to your flaws: great AI, says Schrage, will "kick your assumptions in the groin." Take the example of an online book recommender. A truly intelligent and introspective tool will not just show you books that echo what you've read in the past, it will suggest books that are completely outside of your wheelhouse. It will not simply serve you, it will stretch your thinking. Michael Schrage's most recent book is The Innovator's Hypothesis: How Cheap Experiments Are Worth More Than Good Ideas.

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Poker rule #1: your gut is not as reliable as you think

You really do have to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em, and most of the time trusting your gut is a copout, says poker champion Liv Boeree.

Want to win at poker? First, understand how your mind works. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel-Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains the mind’s two thinking systems: System 1 which "is the brain’s fast, automatic, intuitive approach," and System 2 which is "the mind’s slower, analytical mode, where reason dominates." Champion poker player Liv Boeree explains that if you want to rake in the chips, you’ll need to harness both these systems. The game requires players to make decisions in circumstances of great uncertainty, so learn to balance your mathematical reasoning with your gut instincts—however, when those two systems give you strongly conflicting messages, Boeree says the win is usually based in logic, not intuition. Your gut is valuable, and can often be the key to reading a tell or bluff, but it "isn’t as reliable as you think." Find out more at www.livboeree.com.

Become a Smarter Negotiator By Using Prospect Theory

Want to make someone an offer they can't refuse? Understand how our minds are hung up on loss aversion, says former FBI negotiator Chris Voss.

In 2002, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky won the Nobel Prize in Economics for a behavioral theory they created and refined between 1979 and 1992: prospect theory. It explained how people weigh up risks in decision making, and part of its findings revealed that we are inherently loss averse, meaning we give at least twice as much decision-making weight to the idea of losses than gains. Losing $5, explains former FBI negotiator Chris Voss, feels like losing $10, and the prospect of gaining $5 will feel joyless coompared to the fear of losing $5. This can be leveraged in negotiations simply by pointing out what is going to be lost if a deal isn’t made, or something isn’t done. The "crazy mathematics" we do in our heads isn’t rational, but understanding it will give you an upper hand in your next negotiation. Chris Voss's book is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It.

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3 Ways to Start Making America Great Again

It's not by burning people's pictures and wearing the flag as a cape, but by understanding ourselves better, and understanding the person beside you.

Three Ways America Can Be United Again - Through Decision-Making

3 Ways We Can Make America Great Again – Through Decision Making

Looks Like We're Making America Great Again. Here Are 3 Ways to Contribute.

 

 

Boy Scout Anthony Tucker holds up an American Flag during the nation's largest Veterans Day Parade in New York City on November 11, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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