Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prediction and responsibility

Weather, astrology, champions league final ... a number of areas call for predictions. When it comes to airport operation it is about air traffic demand/capacity and surface demand/capacity with runways, taxiways, ramp areas and parking bays. Same applies for passenger flows with car parking, check-in, security checks, and gates.

We would like computers to forecast operations. But how far should they determine plans and schedules for operations, in fact allocate resources? How much can or should we delegate to the computer? It depends on who is held responsible for the outcome of a decision. In theory, with the decision right you should also delegate the responsibility attribution (blame, praise).

In my observation, users use complex predictive models as an excuse for bad performance i.e. decision making. They will tell you that this and that factor has not been considered in the model. So, give them some prediction which can be easily understood and still make them responsible for their actions.

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