Miserable Risk Estimation: "Managing" Low-Probability, High-Consequence Risks"

As with all bold endeavors, NASA missions must identify and manage their risks. While estimating the consequences of these risks is typically straightforward, it can be challenging to estimate their likelihood. This is especially true for low-probability risks, due both to the lack of operational data and the cognitive biases humans bring to risk estimation. In this talk, I will present both a tongue-in-cheek and “Management Science” approach to estimating low-probability, high-consequence risks. I then summon my Human Factors colleagues to provide NASA mission managers with the gentle guidance needed to avoid common errors in risk assessment.

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