Our eyes tell us we see our whole field of view clearly. But in fact we only see clearly near the direction our eyes are currently looking. Similarly, we feel we are watching out for many kinds of biases. But in fact we probably only correct for a few biases that we currently notice. And even when we notice many biases, we may not have the will or desire to overcome them all. How should we allocate such limited resources to overcome bias?
What kinds of institutions are you thinking of to reduce bias? Say, within an organization like a consultancy, university, or bureaucracy?
That is a tall order, but many such efforts will nevertheless have significant positive expected value.
Until very recently the development component would have been shooting fish in a barrel at Google, which has just adopted a radically more empirical and evidence-based hiring process:
HR consulting companies like Mercer are able to capture significant value ($751 million in revenue in that case):http://www.mercerhr.com/http://www.mmc.com/news/pre...
Testing can be done cooperatively if one has a route to reach gatekeepers, and business process patents exist.
Carl it would be a tall order to develop a less biased way to hire Google or WalMart employees, and then prove to them that it worked, without their cooperation in such a test, all while keeping property rights over the method.
One can focus on institutional structures or research programs that also offer large rewards in the private sector. Modest reductions in cognitive bias in hiring practices offer large private returns for corporations like Google or Wal-Mart, and successful application of such techniques provides an example for other organizations (government, academia) to adopt while increasing the wealth of the researchers.
That increased wealth, and diminishing marginal utility, would mean that a psychologically similar degree of altruism could then be levered to have far more powerful effects in establishing institutions that are purely public goods. Zell Kravinsky has given away proportionately more of his wealth (not to mention a kidney) than Bill Gates, but Gates has thus far had an impact many times greater due to his higher total wealth:
A large foundation endowed with profits from privately valuable applications of bias research could fund Cognitive Forensics auditors, establish prizes, subsidize prediction markets, and invest in producing Friendly superhumanly rational intelligences, among other things.
Since we have a limited supply of altruism, I am reluctant to consider institutions that rely very heavily on human altruism. But I also don't know how to push for better institutions without a large dose of something that looks a lot like altruism. So I suspect the best use of our limited altruism is to push for better institutions.
A bit like the push for the welfare state to replace private altruism? And there were rich individuals, non-charitable themselves, who pushed for the welfare state.
But it seems here that those people who are the most altruistically dedicated to reducing bias may also be the ones who are the most willing to push for good institutions - not only for altruistic reasons, but to make others follow the same standards as they do, or because they trully believe bias reduction is vital. However, I don't see anyone who has not devoted themselves to reducing biases personally leading the push for general institutions in that direction.
The best may be to get people on board for non-altruistic reasons. Convince them that these institution are for reducing biases "in other people" and they may be willing to follow.