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Thread: Big Data

  1. #1
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Default Big Data

    I heard an interesting interview about a book called The 'Big Data' Revolution: How Number Crunchers Can Predict Our Lives

    The author was looking at data mining, how it is being used, and how it will likely be used in the future and what that means for you and how how we interact with each other whether at work or at home.

    Interview Highlights

    On how Target identifies pregnant customers

    "The example comes from Charles Duhigg, who's a reporter at The New York Times, and he's the one who uncovered the story. What Target was doing was they were trying to find out what customers were likely to be pregnant or not. So what they were able to do was to look at all the different things that couples were buying prior to the pregnancy — such as vitamins at one point, unscented lotion at another point, lots of hand towels at another point — and with that, make a prediction, score the likelihood that this person was pregnant, so that they could then send coupons to the people involved... there might be a coupon for a stroller or for diapers ...

    “ All stores will be doing this, and all governments will be doing this. Your doctor will do this. Your employer will do this. This is the new norm.

    - Author Kenneth Cukier

    "There was an example of a father coming in to a store and complaining that the teenage daughter was receiving fliers in the mail for coupons for baby products. And he said, 'What are you trying to do? Trying to get my teenage daughter pregnant?' And of course the way it ends is that he comes back later and apologizes, and says, 'It turns out there were things in my house that I wasn't aware of.' Now the story may be apocryphal. It may not be real. But the fact is, this is the sort of universe that we are now going to be in — we're all going to be in — because of Big Data. And all stores will be doing this, and all governments will be doing this. Your doctor will do this. Your employer will do this. This is the new norm."

    On why Big Data doesn't care about causes, just correlation

    "They crunched the numbers, and they found out that cars that were orange tended to not have breakdowns compared to other colors of cars ... So why might this be? Well, we can sort of concoct different scenarios. One is that orange tends to be a custom color, and if you order an orange car, perhaps the rest of the car was made in a custom way, a little bit more care was taken into it. We don't know why, and it's frankly, it's not that important. It might just bring us down a rabbit hole for us to try to find out why. But, again, if you just want to buy a car that's not going to break down, go with the correlation."


    How do you see big data changing your life?

    Edit: the above site has an audio link for your listening pleasure
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  2. #2
    jump sleuthiness's Avatar
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    It'll certainly save time, making an 80 year old life feel like 40, though I think we'll be living well into our hundreds as this becomes embedded into the fabric of humanity so I suspect the transition will be seamless.

    thinking of you

  3. #3
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    There are better books / commentators on the subject.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/afc1c178-8...#ixzz2N0AfSctJ
    Take Google’s flu project. The data yield fascinating insights into shifting public attitudes to viral infection but, as Jaron Lanier points out in Who Owns The Future?, relying on such information to understand the real incidence of flu can throw up red herrings. “Maybe a rise in flu-related queries,” he writes, “is actually in response to a popular movie in which the lead character has a bad flu.”
    I'm with Jaron. We've known correlation != causation forever. Just because the data sets grow larger, doesn't make it any less true. This idea of trusting the numbers without any kind of analysis represents a backwards step. People being told to buy orange cars because they break down less frequently, without understanding why, is inordinately stupid. It's advocating a new kind of superstition.

    Big Data isn't clever. It's just like data, only more so. It's not Information. It has no intrinsic value. And it's a bugger to manage.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

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    FRACTALICIOUS phobik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    “ All stores will be doing this, and all governments will be doing this. Your doctor will do this. Your employer will do this. This is the new norm.

    - Author Kenneth Cukier
    Yup, it's reached typoc even @Jonnyboy.
    To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
    ~ Elbert Hubbard

    Music provides one of the clearest examples of a much deeper relation between mathematics and human experience.

  5. #5
    null Jonny's Avatar
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    Too lazy to type... Here's this:

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  6. #6
    FRACTALICIOUS phobik's Avatar
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    After listening in the background [in order to not be distracted from deep instrospection] to the video posted by Jonnyboy, I've decided to post an aproprieately adequate response.

    Btw, nice background.
    To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
    ~ Elbert Hubbard

    Music provides one of the clearest examples of a much deeper relation between mathematics and human experience.

  7. #7
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    Too lazy to type... Here's this:

    Awww...you're cute.

    I got bored halfway through but I think you misunderstood what I said.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  8. #8
    null Jonny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    Awww...you're cute.

    I got bored halfway through but I think you misunderstood what I said.
    Definitely wouldn't be the first time. It's a very difficult thing to convey and receive information accurately with one pass via any medium, let alone through posts on a forum.

    Here is a study I read about in which data from smartphones led to the hypothesis that the driving habits of a small percentage of drivers are actually to blame for much of the traffic congestion on the roads. Long story short, they observed that traffic congestion was sometimes much worse than one would expect given the number of cars on the road, and that these spots of heavy traffic "followed" certain people around wherever they drove (they left congestion in their wake). Although this notion isn't surprising, and many of us have likely suspected the same thing, this data provides a possible avenue to alleviate the problem using smartphone apps or targeted instruction. /shrug
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    Definitely wouldn't be the first time. It's a very difficult thing to convey and receive information accurately with one pass via any medium, let alone through posts on a forum.

    Here is a study I read about in which data from smartphones led to the hypothesis that the driving habits of a small percentage of drivers are actually to blame for much of the traffic congestion on the roads. Long story short, they observed that traffic congestion was sometimes much worse than one would expect given the number of cars on the road, and that these spots of heavy traffic "followed" certain people around wherever they drove (they left congestion in their wake). Although this notion isn't surprising, and many of us have likely suspected the same thing, this data provides a possible avenue to alleviate the problem using smartphone apps or targeted instruction. /shrug
    By avoiding "certain people"?
    I guess this means "certain people" are going to get freeways (or whatever you guys call them) all to themselves....
    Probably the same "certain people" that drive orange cars...

    Hmm, it might be worth going orange after all.

    I guess what was confusing about your message, is that you started out with what seemed to be an anecdote about how easy it is for non-experts to be blinded by the "science" of Big Data. You then went on to demonstrate how you'd personally been blinded.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  10. #10
    null Jonny's Avatar
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    Blinded in what way?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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