Sunday, February 19, 2012

Black Swan thinking – there’s an app for that!

As mobile apps increasingly mediate human interaction with the outside world, possibly eventually becoming a full buffer layer, there should be an app for Black Swan thinking, or more broadly, for bias reduction.

A Black Swan is an event that is rare, has extreme impact, and is retrospectively (but not prospectively) predictive. As humans with story-based not statistics-based evolutionary-relic perceptual systems, we should think more black swannishly or at least have mechanisms for minimizing exposure to downside black swans (e.g.; stock market crashes, terrorist attacks, health situations), and maximizing exposure to upside black swans (e.g.; startup investments, knowledge, parties).

Antibias App: a decision-making tool based on personal bias
The Antibias App, an on-board bias reduction coach (an extension to the Siri 2.0 personal virtual coach), could improve human perception by allowing randomness to be seen, statistics-based thinking, and a focus on the unknown (antiknowledge) as opposed to the known.

The Antibias App could list the top 5-10 bias areas (e.g.; confirmation bias, decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases, social biases, and memory errors and biases) with your personalized score for each one and a composite score as applied to different contexts (e.g.; personal, professional, political, economic). Even determining personalized biases is valuable; this could be accomplished through automated data collection, sentiment analysis of social media droppings, and online tests.

An advanced feature of the Antibas App could be a click-through to see the top three pro/con arguments on any issue and where different composite bias scores lie (e.g.; your own, your social network, your professional peers, your neighborhood, your nation state, etc.).

The Antibias App could be viewed in different modes such as story mode, statistics mode, graphics mode, and data visualization mode. The meta goal of the Antibias App is to increase liberty and choice by opening up more ways of thinking about bias and improved action-taking as a result.

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