What are experts for?

AI and Society 5 (2):161-171 (1991)
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Knowledge engineering is the term given to the process of developing expert systems and knowledge engineers are the people who acquire the requisite knowledge from experts and structure that knowledge into a useable computer program. As knowledge engineering becomes a more accepted technology, there is increasing concern about attendant social costs, such as job displacement or possible exploitation of experts. This paper reports on our efforts to explore this latter issue by scrutinizing how knowledge engineers think about the domain expert and the role that person plays in system development. To accomplish this aim, we asked several samples of novice engineers to write story completions to a preamble that describes a knowledge engineer encountering a reluctant expert who may be fearing job loss if the system is implemented. The resulting accounts were content-analysed for insights as to how novice system builders think about experts. The results indicate that experts are conceived more as a tool to be used rather than a person to be respected



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