Expert Systems

Description Expert Systems refer to computer systems where the accumulated knowledge of our experts is captured for use by future generations or novice staff. Novices can look up templates, checklists+, lessons learned, case studies, or any of a large collection of captured knowledge, and avoid having to spend the time to recreate that knowledge. Productivity increases by speeding up the learning curve for new staff.

Pharmaceutical firms are littered with Expert Systems that no one uses. These systems are often beneficial for those who first set them up. You learn a lot by having to make explicit all the implicit knowledge+ you have accumulated by doing the work. It's only that the knowledge captured within the Expert System was developed within a context. And information without a context, without a narrative, is dry and uninteresting to those who were not involved in its development. Individuals need to learn on their own terms, and by themselves, in order to internalize the learning. If you have to rush to a computer system to find out what you need to get around this latest obstacle or to understand what to do with this unexpected opportunity, then you most likely will not fully take advantage of the creative moment. You will revert to the comfortable, but dull, mechanical approach to work.

These systems were very popular in the late 1990's and early 2000's, and therefore have had a long history for their shortcomings to become apparent, for example:

  • Obscures the common sense needed in some decision making
  • Inability to respond to unusual, changing or unique circumstances
  • Difficulty in capturing domain expert tacit or implicit knowledge
  • Difficulty in maintaining these systems makes the knowledge in them quickly obsolete
Appropriate Uses  None.
Further Reading