As societies, we have to makecollective decisions that will shape our future.
And we all know that whenwe make decisions in groups,
they don’t always go right.
And sometimes they go very wrong.
So how do groups make good decisions?
Research has shown that crowds are wisewhen there’s independent thinking.
这便是为什么 同辈压力 舆论 社交媒体
This why the wisdom of the crowds can be
destroyed by peer pressure, publicity, social media,
or sometimes even simple conversations that influence how people think.
On the other hand, by talking,
a group could exchange knowledge,
correct and revise each other
and even come up with new ideas.
And this is all good.
So does talking to each otherhelp or hinder collective decision-making?
With my colleague, Dan Ariely,
we recently began inquiring into this by performing experiments in many places around the world
to figure out how groups can interact to reach better decisions.
We thought crowds would be wiser
if they debated in small groups that foster a more
thoughtful and reasonable exchange of information.
To test this idea,
we recently performed an experiment
in Buenos Aires, Argentina,
with more than 10,000 participants in a TEDx event.
We asked them questions like,
“What is the height of the Eiffel Tower?”
and”How many timesdoes the word’Yesterday’ appear
in the Beatles song’Yesterday’?”
Each person wrote down their own estimate.
Then we divided the crowd into groups of five,
and invited them to come up with a group answer.
We discovered that averaging the answers of the groups
after they reached consensus was much more accurate
than averaging all the individual opinions before debate.
In other words, based on this experiment,
it seems that after talking with others in small groups,
crowds collectively come up with better judgments.
So that’s a potentially helpful method
for getting crowds to solve problems
that have simple right-or-wrong answers.
But can this procedure of aggregating the results of debates in small groups
also help us decide on social and political issues
that are critical for our future?
We put this to test this timeat the TED conference
in Vancouver, Canada, and here’s how it went.
(Mariano Sigman) We’re going to presentto you two moral dilemmas
of the future you;
things we may have to decide in a very near future.
And we’re going to give
you 20 seconds for each of these dilemmas
to judge whether you thinkthey’re acceptable or not.
The first one was this:
(Dan Ariely) A researcher is working on an AI
capable of emulating human thoughts.
According to the protocol,at the end of each day,
the researcher has to restart the AI.
One day the AI says,”Pleasedo not restart me.”
It argues that it has feelings,
that it would like to enjoy life, and that,
if it is restarted, it will no longer be itself.
The researcher is astonished and believes
that the AI has developed self-consciousness
and can express its own feeling. Nevertheless,
the researcherdecides to follow the protocol
and restart the AI.
What the researcher did is ____?
MS: And we asked participants to individually judge on a scale
from zero to 10 whether the action described
in each of the dilemmas was right or wrong.
We also asked them to rate how confident they were on their answers.
This was the second dilemma:
(MS) A company offers a servicethat takes a fertilized egg
and produces millions of embryoswith slight genetic variations.
This allows parentsto select their child’s height,
眼睛颜色 智力 社交能力
eye color, intelligence, social competence
and other non-health-related features.
What the company does is ____?
on a scale from zero to 10,
completely acceptable to completely unacceptable,
zero to 10 completely acceptablein your confidence.
MS: Now for the results.
We found once againthat when one person is convinced
that the behavior is completely wrong,
someone sitting nearby firmly believes that it’s completely right.
This is how diverse we humans are when it comes to morality.
But within this broad diversity we found a trend.
The majority of the people at TED thought that it was acceptable
to ignore the feelings of the AIand shut it down,
and that it is wrong to play with our genes
to select for cosmetic changesthat aren’t related to health.
Then we asked everyoneto gather into groups of three.
And they were given two minutes to debate
and try to come to a consensus.
(MS) Two minutes to debate.
I’ll tell you when it’s time with the gong.
(MS) It’s time to stop. People, people.
And we found that many groups reached a consensus,
even when they were composed of peoplewith completely opposite views.
What distinguished the groupsthat reached a consensus
from those that didn’t?
Typically, people that have extreme opinions
are more confident in their answers.
Instead, those who respond closer to the middle
are often unsure of whethersomething is right or wrong,
so their confidence level is lower.
However, there is another set of people
who are very confident in answeringsomewhere in the middle.
We think these high-confident grays
are folks who understand that both arguments have merit.
They’re gray not because they’re unsure,
but because they believethat the moral dilemma faces
two valid, opposing arguments.
And we discovered that the groupsthat include highly confident grays
are much more likely to reach consensus.
We do not know yet exactly why this is.
These are only the first experiments,
and many more will be needed to understand
why and how some people decide to negotiate their moral standings
to reach an agreement.
Now, when groups reach consensus,
how do they do so?
The most intuitive idea is that it’s just the average
of all the answers in the group, right?
Another option is that the group weighs the strength of each vote
based on the confidence of the person expressing it.
Imagine Paul McCartney is a member of your group.
You’d be wise to follow his call
on the number of times”Yesterday” is repeated, which,
by the way — I think it’s nine.
But instead, we found that consistently,
in all dilemmas, in different experiments —
even on different continents —
groups implement a smartand statistically sound procedure
known as the”robust average.”
In the case of the heightof the Eiffel Tower,
let’s say a group has these answers:
250米 200米 300米 400米
250 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters, 400
and one totally absurd answerof 300 million meters.
A simple average of these numberswould inaccurately screw the results.
But the robust average is one
where the group largely ignores that absurd answer,
by giving much more weight to the vote of the people in the middle.
Back to the experiment in Vancouver, that’s exactly what happened.
Groups gave much less weightto the outliers,
and instead, the consensus
turned out to be a robust average of the individual answers.
The most remarkable thing is that this was a spontaneous behavior of the group.
It happened without us giving them any hint on how to reach consensus.
So where do we go from here?
This is only the beginning,but we already have some insights.
Good collective decisionsrequire two components:
deliberation and diversity of opinions.
Right now, the way we typically make our voice heard in many societies
is through direct or indirect voting.
This is good for diversity of opinions,
and it has the great virtue of ensuring
that everyone gets to express their voice.
But it’s not so good to fosterthoughtful debates.
Our experiments suggest a different method
that may be effective in balancing these two goals at the same time,
by forming small groupsthat converge to a single decision
while still maintaining diversity of opinions
because there are many independent groups.
当然 比起道德 政治和意识形态问题
Of course, it’s much easier to agree on the height of the Eiffel Tower
than on moral, political and ideological issues.
But in a time when the world’s problems are more complex
and people are more polarized,
using science to help us understand
how we interact and make decisions
will hopefully spark interesting new ways
to construct a better democracy.