The Power of Mental Modeling and the Limits of AI

May 12, 2021

Kenneth Cukier, senior editor at the Economist, and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the University of Oxford, argue that because AI systems have no causal model of the world, they lack the human capacity for imagination and decision-making. Azeem Azhar explores their contention that we should not rely on AI to provide solutions to our problems. Rather we should systematically challenge how we frame our problems in order to produce breakthrough insights and innovations — then use AI to help enact those solutions.

They also discuss:

  • How “reframing” old technologies unleashed advances for SpaceX, Apple, Spotify and others.
  • How proper framing empowered New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to battle Covid-19 in her country.
  • Why you should not think “outside the box,” but instead “switch boxes.”


Further resources:

  • “You Can Make Better Decisions by Placing Problems in a New Frame” (Bloomberg, 2021)
  • “11 Myths About Decision-Making” (Harvard Business Review, 2021)
  • “Beyond Deep Learning with Gary Marcus” (Exponential View podcast, 2019)

HBR Presents is a network of podcasts curated by HBR editors, bringing you the best business ideas from the leading minds in management. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Harvard Business Review or its affiliates.

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