MIT Sloan Management Review Article on What Managers Should Ask About AI Models and Data Sets

  • 8m
  • Roger W. Hoerl, Thomas C. Redman
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • 2023

The power of AI and the machine learning models on which it is based continue to reshape the rules of business. However, too many AI projects are failing — often after deployment, which is especially costly and embarrassing. Just ask Amazon about its facial recognition fiascos, or Microsoft about its blunders with its Tay chatbot. Too often, data scientists write off such failures as individual anomalies without looking for patterns that could help prevent future failures. Today’s senior business managers have the power — and the responsibility — to prevent post-deployment failures. But to do so, they must understand more about the data sets and data models in order to both ask the right questions of AI model developers and evaluate the answers.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But aren’t data scientists highly trained?” The vast majority of training for today’s data scientists focuses on the mechanics of machine learning, not its limitations. This leaves data scientists ill-equipped to prevent or properly diagnose AI model failures. AI developers must gauge a model’s ability to work into the future and beyond the limits of its training data sets — a concept they call generalizability. Today this concept is poorly defined and lacks rigor.

About the Author

Roger W. Hoerl is the Brate-Peschel Professor of Statistics at Union College in Schenectady, New York, and coauthor with Ronald D. Snee of Leading Holistic Improvement With Lean Six Sigma 2.0, 2nd ed. (Pearson FT Press, 2018). Thomas C. Redman is president of Data Quality Solutions and author of People and Data: Uniting to Transform Your Organization (KoganPage, 2023).

Learn more about MIT SMR.

In this Book

  • MIT Sloan Management Review Article on What Managers Should Ask About AI Models and Data Sets