Automation Bias in the Abstraction Age

As I dug into the meaning behind the term automation bias, I became more horrified. The benign definition is as follows: “Automation bias is the propensity for humans to favor suggestions from automated decision-making systems and to ignore contradictory information made without automation, even if it is correct.” (1)

Horror #1 because this implies we are now in an age where we trust the machine more than we trust instinct and fact. We ignore gut feelings and certainties because we think the machine knows better.  And as James Bridle most recently put it, “Automation bias means that technology doesn’t even have to malfunction for it to be a threat to our lives” (2)

Horror #2 because this concept is easily abstracted out of our day-to-day lives and its social impact.   I have written about the age of abstraction and the dangers of putting complex things in a black box. Black boxes are scary because the info they house are viewable to a select audience. (control)

Horror #3 because when you couple automation bias with black box abstraction, the path to the final source of truth is obfuscated. No single person has a full view. it’s unclear if we would understand everything even if we could see all the parts anyway (oh joy) — but being abstracted out of both logic and code erases all possibility. 

We need to be in the era of certainty and clarity not doubt and abstraction. 

New & Noteworthy

In a recent post, I grumbled about my satisfaction with new/hot lists for NYC restaurants.  As I was pondering about my ideal list, I recalled one that I used to refer to a lot was the “new“ list that used to be on the New York Magazine food area. It was simple: restaurant name and one-liner and if memory serves me, it was listed in order of recency.  Like a few spots on nymag.com back-in-the-day, the feed or whatever was populating that list started to deprecate and over time, it was completely useless until it just disappeared.  But I liked it because was not overly editorially random nor injected with manufactured drama of up- and down-movements week over week.  

The prototype of my new weekly list will not be a subjective ranked list cloaked as “trendy” or “buzzy” but simply a short alphabetized list of new places.  The unsexy working name is “New & Noteworthy” and restaurants that have been opened for more than three months will not be included. I realized that whenever I recommend a new place to a friend, I would always include the website and links to a few reviews, which is what I will do here as well.

New & Noteworthy (week of June 3)

Bar Pisellino Opened mid-May

Crown Shy Opened mid-March

Essex Market Opened mid-May

HaSalon Opened mid-April

Kāwi Opened mid-March

Le Jardinier Opened late-May

Maison Yaki Opened late-April

The Fulton Opened mid-May

Van Da Opened mid-March