Theoretical, measured, and subjective responsibility in aided decision making

Nir Douer, Joachim Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


When humans interact with intelligent systems, their causal responsibility for outcomes becomes equivocal. We analyze the descriptive abilities of a newly developed responsibility quantification model (ResQu) to predict actual human responsibility and perceptions of responsibility in the interaction with intelligent systems. In two laboratory experiments, participants performed a classification task. They were aided by classification systems with different capabilities. We compared the predicted theoretical responsibility values to the actual measured responsibility participants took on and to their subjective rankings of responsibility. The model predictions were strongly correlated with both measured and subjective responsibility. Participants' behavior with each system was influenced by the system and human capabilities, but also by the subjective perceptions of these capabilities and the perception of the participant's own contribution. A bias existed only when participants with poor classification capabilities relied less than optimally on a system that had superior classification capabilities and assumed higher-than-optimal responsibility. The study implies that when humans interact with advanced intelligent systems, with capabilities that greatly exceed their own, their comparative causal responsibility will be small, even if formally the human is assigned major roles. Simply putting a human into the loop does not ensure that the human will meaningfully contribute to the outcomes. The results demonstrate the descriptive value of the ResQu model to predict behavior and perceptions of responsibility by considering the characteristics of the human, the intelligent system, the environment, and some systematic behavioral biases. The ResQu model is a new quantitative method that can be used in system design and can guide policy and legal decisions regarding human responsibility in events involving intelligent systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Information Theory
  • Responsibility
  • alert systems
  • decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Artificial Intelligence


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