Workshop: ICML Workshop on Algorithmic Recourse

Tobias Gerstenberg - Going beyond the here and now: Counterfactual simulation in human cognition

Tobias Gerstenberg

[ Abstract ]
Sat 24 Jul 10:30 a.m. PDT — 10:55 a.m. PDT


As humans, we spend much of our time going beyond the here and now. We dwell on the past, long for the future, and ponder how things could have turned out differently. In this talk, I will argue that people's knowledge of the world is organized around causally structured mental models, and that much of human thought can be understood as cognitive operations over these mental models. Specifically, I will highlight the pervasiveness of counterfactual thinking in human cognition. Counterfactuals are critical for how people make causal judgments, how they explain what happened, and how they hold others responsible for their actions. Based on these empirical insights, I will share some thoughts on the relationship between counterfactual thought and algorithmic recourse.