Making better decisions is one way to get paid more (and beat the machines)

Making a good decision implies that we have some idea of what’s true. But we do not have infinite data inputs or processing capacity. We are limited by our lifetimes.

Abstract representation of coins

Making a good decision implies that we have some idea of what’s true. As Jill Lepore, professor of history at Harvard University, explores in her podcast series The Last Archive, the “unit of evidence” for discovering truth is data that is now only readable by a machine. The sheer scale of data available to us in the modern world is overwhelming. Humans are impressively efficient thinkers, especially given our limited resources. But we do not have infinite data inputs or processing capacity. We are limited by our lifetimes. We have somewhat unreliable connections to others. It can take us a long time to learn since we can only think in a few dimensions at a time.

But humans can still have the advantage. If relevant data isn’t fully codified, humans have to step in and make judgment decisions. A human has to understand the decision context and wrestle with uncertainty in both the data and in the forecast outcomes. Humans have to make decisions in unstructured, open-ended environments. A human has to make the choice of what error to accept—wasting time predicting the unpredictable or failing to predict the predictable.

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