Department of Philosophy



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The Department of Philosophy and School of Computing Colloquium Series presents

Owen King
University of Twente

Self-fulfilling Prophecy in Practical and Automated Prediction

Thursday, January 30, 2020

4:00 pm

Watson Hall, Room 517

Some seemingly innocent predictions turn out to be not so innocent after all.  This is so with self-fulfilling prophecies, which are predictions that somehow bring about their own truth.  In this talk, I will present philosophical research on self-fulfilling prophecies, with special attention to contexts of practical prediction.  The focus on practical prediction, as opposed to scientific prediction, is motivated by the aim of addressing self-fulfilling prophecies in the use of predictive analytics.  After introducing several examples, I will lay out a general theory and definition of self-fulfilling prophecy.  Then I will develop a normative analysis.  This analysis comes in four layers, reflecting interrelated problems regarding both moral and epistemic responsibility. I will close with a brief discussion of the risk of recommender systems producing self-fulfilling predictions of consumer preferences.

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