Coconet, an AI music generator, is trained with a dataset of 306 four-part harmonies by Johann Sebastian Bach. Coconet produces music that is very pleasing to the ear. However, it is not AI’s credit, but Bach’s.
This is just one of the many examples in Viktor Mayer-Schönberger’s book ‘Framers’. The Oxford professor co-authored with Kenneth Cukier and Francis de Véricourt a reassuring book on AI, which has just been published in a Dutch translation.
We have a mental superpower, framing, only we are not well aware of it. Besides, we use it far too little. We should focus a little less on data and use our imagination much more.
The superpower hits
Mayer-Schönberger has been in the Netherlands for a while, which is immediately a reason to ask what he means by framing. ‘Framing is not about communication here, but about our approach, the way we make decisions. We do this using mental models: frameworks.
Data is not the only way to make good decisions, it is a myth
We use these mental models to analyze the information we have collected. In this way, we arrive at a number of options for a decision, and take the option that we find most suitable. What we found remarkable is that people who have the same data still make different decisions.
We set out to investigate this scientifically. This is how we discovered that the framework with which we analyze our data or information is much more important for making decisions than data. If you get better at hitting, you get more opportunities and better results. ‘
As bad decision makers, we need the help of as much data as possible, right?
“It is a myth to believe that data is the only way to make good decisions. We are too focused on data today. We are told: When you look at the right data, you come to the right solution.
Children learn in school that there is the right answer or the right solution to everything. We are conditioned in our society to believe that there is only one solution. But we do not actually know what the right solutions are, what potential options there are.
AI works perfectly if the future is the same as the past if nothing changes
Especially now that we face enormous challenges, not only in our society but also for humanity in general, we need to go beyond the conventional path, beyond the solutions that are already on the table. They do not provide the opportunities and decisions we need for the future. ‘
Meanwhile, we have already become very dependent on artificial intelligence. He is already making many decisions for us. Is it good or bad?
“The people who think we just have to give up making decisions because AI can do better are making two mistakes. The first mistake is that they think AI is good at making decisions. But AI is only good at detecting patterns in the data.
AI works perfectly if the future is the same as the past if nothing changes. Then we can make good predictions about tomorrow based on yesterday. But if tomorrow is different than yesterday, then AI is completely helpless.
The other mistake they make is that they think people are not good at making decisions. Yes, we often make bad decisions, but we can get better at it.
The way we get better at is not focusing on the one right decision. Our mental superpower is precisely to come up with new possibilities for decisions, of new possible choices that we had not thought of before.
We humans can dream with a specific goal in mind. Machines can not do that ‘.
What we can do better than computers
The mental models we choose and apply are frameworks: they determine how we perceive the world and how we act. Frames make it possible to estimate and interpret new and unknown situations. Something that even the smartest computers cannot, and perhaps never will,.
Artificial intelligence is ingenious at answering questions, but writers ask questions that have never been formulated before. Computers can compute, but the human brain can make up. We can dream within limits, limit and fold our imagination.
Computers work in a world that already exists and does not change, but people can imagine new worlds, hypothetical and even conflicting scenarios using frames. This unique human skill allows us to come up with innovative ideas and make better decisions.
Is big tech changing the way we hit?
‘Yes they do. Part of the great gospel of technology is that humanity is evil and destroying itself. So let’s outsource good decision making to the machines that are powered by great technology. Because machines know better than we do.
Of course, this is not true, firstly because the machines are not better, but secondly because the big technologies are also big organizations. Large companies tend to have a monoculture when it comes to thinking, beliefs and belief systems.
They share the same values, visions and conventional possibilities when it comes to making decisions. That is why large organizations are generally not very good at coming up with innovative, new solutions. ‘
Many tech executives, including Elon Musk, believe AI will beat us in the future.
“It’s because they have not thought it through properly. They believe that a prediction based on past and present is the only right way. This has also been the case in recent decades. We primarily pushed for efficiency. Basically, not much has changed.
We do not need more efficiency today, but above all more innovation
But now with climate change, the huge shift in geopolitics, the pandemic, the rising social inequality, it’s about the foundation of our society. Tomorrow will be very different than yesterday. That is why we do not need more efficiency, but above all more innovation, a new way of thinking. ‘
There are even those who believe that AI will no longer need humans in the future.
“Of course there are real successes with artificial intelligence, think of AlphaZero who learned to win chess games and go, or think of Waymo with autonomous cars. But when we examine these successes more deeply, it turns out that the machine ultimately did not. self.
It is people who set boundaries who can see the forest for the trees. Regina Barzilay (professor at MIT who discovered an active ingredient against resistant bacteria using AI, ed.) says so too. It was not the machine, it was people who determined the research question and who laid out the strategy for data analysis. Give those people credit, not the machine. ‘
Will AI not even be able to frame like us in the distant future?
‘I do not know, nor is it good to make such long-term predictions. But for fifty years, they have been working on the framework problem for AI, which is to ensure that machines can do the same as humans in that area. We have not progressed with that. “
Back to today, what can our readers do to start using their superpowers more?
“The first thing they need to understand is that the right solution often does not exist. There is no simple solution that is easy to find. So they are better placed to create more space for opportunities. Let them create a cognitive set-up where they focus more on diversity, on ecosystems for themselves and for their organization.
We need to push for cognitive diversity rather than cognitive efficiency. This means that we must look at all possible ways in which a leader and an organization can facilitate this. It is good to have diverse teams, but such a team is even better if you let the individual team members think about before a meeting. That way, they do not reach consensus and a uniform solution too quickly.
Deciding is not to choose one or two mediocre options
Leaders are a product of our society, of the school they have attended, of the training they have received, of the promotions they have made. We also created all the processes and institutions at a time when we focused on greater efficiency.
You can have some success with that today, but you also have it in you to achieve much more success. You do not have to change gender or do something very drastic, you just have to change the way you approach the problems.
The first step to this is to realize that the framework in which you make decisions is much more flexible than you think. You do not have to throw out your frame, but you may question some of the limitations of that frame. You can adjust your frame. That alone gives empowerment. ‘
Are we too focused on making our own decisions? Should we spend more time on it, asking more what-if questions?
“It’s not about the moment we decide. It’s much more important to know what happens before that when we gather the options. To decide is also not to choose one or two mediocre options. Many leaders are driven to lay. these options on the table and compare them.
When I tell them that they can strengthen themselves by starting to generate more opportunities, they respond that it is more work to compare all of these opportunities. Yes it’s true. But if you do, you will come up with much better solutions.
I immediately add that it is not something to delegate to create more opportunities, to lower it lower in the food chain. You can not say: you come up with three options, and I decide. With that, you give your power away. That power is precisely to find and work with opportunities. ‘