Category: Biases

Definition of proportionality bias

Proportionality bias refers to the tendency to presume that big events must have big causes.

It is a type of cognitive bias.

Conspiracy theories

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Atlas Shrugged

Some humanoid robots that, like Boston Dynamic’s Atlas, already outperform humans in pany parts of the physical sphere. However, they are not thought to have substantial AI capabilities yet. It is hard to tell though. Not all projects will be made public.


 McKinsey predicts that AI techniques (including deep learning and reinforcement learning) have the potential to create between $3.5T and $5.8T in value annually across nine business functions in 19 industries.

Main issues

Why Proportionality Biases Matter

The proportionality bias is a major driver of conspiracy theories.


The new coronavirus is exactly thetype of huge, sad and disruptive event, that in the minds of many people can only have a big explanation.

The idea that a freak mutation in South China and the subsequent inability of many governments to deal with the fallout of that event causes many people to believe some outrageous theories.

Unsupervised vs supervised AI

Schools of thought

There are various schools of thought on how to proceed with this level of uncertainty. Some fear a full-on battle between the species. Others foresee a merger between man and machine.

One school says we should proceed with extreme care, as these increasingly autonomous machines may represent a existential risk to humankind – once their physique is stronger and they outsmart us by any standard. Basically they would be better at almost everything.

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This group of experts believes these machines may conclude that there is not much use for these troublesome humans.

Others say this is never going to happen: it is just a scare tactic and a big conspiracy theory.

Potentially this type of denial is not helpful, because the current, very basic artificial intelligence is already outperforming human brain power on many fronts. Google’s AlphaGo algorithm, for instance, beat the world champion of the Chinese board game GO and displayed unexpected creativity (see video on the left).

A third school assumes there will be a symbiosis between humans and machines, wherebye artificial intelligence will augment us at all fronts. We, ourselves, will become these superintelligent super-beings.

This process is already on-going as well. Most people rely on calculators, rather than mental arithmetic, and few people travel without navigation tools.

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the coronavirus: It is so big, and so disruptive, that it can only have a big explanation. P

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