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Experts

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  1. Assignment # 2: (Will be on the web tomorrow)a) Shrader-Frechette discusses the CWD as a means of compensating workers for workplace hazards. Summarize concisely the arguments for and against the CWD (point form is fine). Discuss an example (from your experience or that you know about), of a workplace where the CWD has, or has not, been implemented effectively. For this example, outline the conditions that you think would be necessary to ensure that the workers/public are treated ethically.(about 300-400 words)b) Davis et. al. point out a number of difficulties and barriers to effective technology assessment. In light of these barriers, critique the authors’ view that the clinical engineer is best suited for the responsibility of assessing health-care technologies.(about 300-400 words)Length: Between 600 and 750 words (provide a word count)Due: Thursday, Feb 12, 2004 at the start of classReminder: 3 Reflections must be done by the end of term. They can be handed in on any Thursday

  2. Experts • The role of experts • How do experts make decisions? • Examples of heuristics • A model of the expert and society • What happens when experts disagree? • Discussion

  3. It is clear that society’s ability to control technology involves experts (Technologies often involve specialized knowledge)

  4. What is the role of experts? Woodhouse and Nieusma warn against two extreme views: • Simple theory of expertise • Citizens delegate decisions to elected officials • Role of expert is to provide unbiased, value-free advice

  5. The Social Control of TechnologyActors and Mechanisms Interest Groups Government Public Policies Funding Protest Public partic. Laws/ Regs Military Market Codes of Practice Media Communication TechAssessm’t Professionals/ Experts Business Clear Connection Actor Mechanism Unclear and/or Hidden Connection

  6. What is the role of experts? Another “extreme” view: 2) Cynical model • Advice is always biased • Experts disagree • Experts aligned with their client’s or organization’s stance • Statistics can be made to say anything • Expertise serves only the powerful and the affluent

  7. The Social Control of TechnologyActors and Mechanisms Interest Groups Government Public Policies Funding Protest Public partic. Laws/ Regs Military Market Codes of Practice Media Communication TechAssessm’t Professionals/ Experts Business Clear Connection Actor Mechanism Unclear and/or Hidden Connection

  8. A more constructive model (Woodhouse and Nieusma) • Experts should: • aim at helping political participants cope with uncertainty and disagreement • help develop ways to reduce, mitigate or contain the worst possible consequences • help problem-solvers evolve more flexible options… by crafting ways of proceeding that allow costs to be borne gradually • speed up feedback indicating negative consequences

  9. How do experts make decisions? Koen (1991) The Engineering Method Experts use heuristics Heuristic:Anything that provides an aid or direction in the solution of a problem Synonyms: • Rule of thumb • Intuition • Hint • Rule of craft • Engineering judgment

  10. Where do heuristics come from? • Theory • Trial and error • Experience • Trust in other experts • Codes and standards of practice Why are heuristics used? • Most important problems either don’t have analytical solutions or it would take too long to solve them • A heuristic solution is better than none at all

  11. Characteristics of Heuristics • A heuristic does not guarantee a solution • It may contradict other heuristics • It reduces the search time in solving a problem • Its acceptance depends on the immediate context instead of an absolute standard

  12. Examples of heuristics Transportation Engineer: • Do not try to build your way out of congestion • Use traffic microsimulation for short term forecasts (< 5 years) and planning models for long term forecasts (>5 years) • Use an AM peak hour factor of 0.4 for short term forecasts in Toronto Area • Never assume a future maximum daily transit mode share >30% for suburban areas

  13. Examples of expert heuristics • Doctor? • Lawyer? • Nurse?

  14. Question What are some of the heuristics that we have about the nature of technology? e.g. - a technology appropriate in one context will not be appropriate in all contexts

  15. Examples of heuristics in the readingsHeuristics suggested by Di Norcia (2002) “there is no such thing as zero social or cognitive risk” “No opinion should a priori be deemed more relevant or valid than any other” “accepting cognitive diversity improves rather than reduces the chances of solving complex socio technical problems.” “Which stakeholder opinions may be relevant to a problem needs to be determined early in the problem-solving process”

  16. Examples of heuristics in the readingsWoodhouse and Nieusema (1997) • Expert advice is not value-free • Disagreement is not necessarily bad • Uncertainty cannot be reduced to zero… nothing is risk free. • Experts should: • help political participants cope with uncertainty • help develop ways to avoid the worst possible consequences • help evolve more flexible options… with costs borne gradually • speed up feedback indicating negative consequences

  17. A model of the expert in society(Koen 1991) Types of problems facing society

  18. Implications for the Role of Experts • Emphasis on heuristics implies that experts opinions are fallible • Technical controversy – experts with different heuristics may disagree • The broader the overlap the better • Experts can be sensitive to the needs of society • Society can be more informed and better able to question experts • Emphasizes the need for broader education for experts and non-experts

  19. Broader education of society

  20. Broader education of experts

  21. What happens when experts disagree? • Underlying characteristics of expert advice • heuristics are different from expert to expert • it is not easy to separate values from facts • Most professional experts must earn a living by working for business executives or government officials allied with business. Elements of bias can enter into expert advice. • Results in • failure to confront each other’s arguments (talking past each other) • experts don’t admit to uncertainty • experts reject each other’s data • attacks on each other’s credibility • experts are labeled and accused of being ideologically driven. • polarization

  22. Discussion • What are some local examples of technical controversies? • Stakeholders? • differing expert opinions? • Biases among experts?

  23. Questions Is there a place for technical controversy? What are the benefits and disbenefits?

  24. Resources Di Norcia, Vincent. 2002. Diverse Knowledges and competing interests: An essay on Socio-Technical Problem-Solving. Sceince and Engineering Ethics. 8(1):83-98. Woodhouse, E. J. and Dean Nieusma. 1997. When Expert Advice Works, and When It Does Not. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine. Spring 1997 Koen, B. V. 1991. The Engineering Method. In Critical Perspectives on Nonacademic Science and Engineering. P. T. Durbin (ed.) Research In Technology Studies, Vol 4. Meehan, Richard L. 1984. The Atom and the Fault: Experts, Earthquakes and Nuclear Power. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.