A conversation during today’s session of be radical’s FutureFWD program reminded me of the (in)famous Dunning-Kruger effect. The short version of the Dunning-Kruger effect states that “people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability.”
Something, I am sure, we all have observed in our respective lives: Someone commenting on the rise of the machines once AI becomes sentient (hint: the person watched too many re-runs of The Terminator). Or someone else lamenting the millions of unemployed truck drivers which we soon will see due to fully autonomous vehicles taking over (hint: we are quite some ways off from fully autonomous vehicles and even when we get there, it is much more complex than people simply being unemployed). I am sure you have plenty of your own examples…
The Dunning-Kruger effect happens to the best of us – once we know a little bit about a topic, we have a tendency to become overly confident in our true grasp of the subject and ignorant of the level of expertise needed to gain mastery. And it hits you two ways: One is you and your understanding of a particular subject matter. The other is the people around you and their grasp of things versus of how they present it and themselves. Which makes hiring in areas you are no expert in so hard – how do you know if someone is truly a master at their chosen art or simply deep in Dunning-Kruger land?
We ought to constantly remind ourselves of David Dunning and Justin Kruger’s work and keep asking ourself: Do we truly know or do we believe we know?