The Demise of Experts


As I was writing yesterday's post on title optimization, I realized journalists loosing control of titles of their articles are not the only experts loosing monopoly on decisions in their field of expertize. UX experts, product managers, and marketing gurus are freaking out, too, as A/B optimization and other big data techniques are increasingly the final arbiters of usability, product, and marketing decisions. The frustrations of experts who are being reduced to mechanical turks is understandable, but no amount of 21st century luddism will change the tide and bring experts back to their elevated positioned that they'd been enjoying in the 20th century. An expert is a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area. The defining characteristic of experts is that they cannot explain every step of their decision making in simple enough terms for everybody to understand, but they must rely on power of their authority in order to enforce their decision on others. While computers have successfully automated simple tasks, complicated tasks (as defined by Cynefin framework) are still mostly domain of humans. I think this is about to change and I see big data and algorithms increasingly taking decisions away from human experts. This will have profound effect on our society, since expert type of jobs are bread and butter of middle class in our society. With expert type jobs gone our children will have to move away from complicated to complex tasks, just as our generation and generation of our parents had to move away from doing simple tasks in factories and in the fields and become experts in their respective fields.