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jerryking : unfamiliarity   2

What Data Can’t Do -
Published: February 18, 2013

there are many things big data does poorly. Let’s note a few in rapid-fire fashion:

* Data struggles with the social. Your brain is pretty bad at math (quick, what’s the square root of 437), but it’s excellent at social cognition. People are really good at mirroring each other’s emotional states, at detecting uncooperative behavior and at assigning value to things through emotion.
* Data struggles with context. Human decisions are embedded in contexts. The human brain has evolved to account for this reality...Data analysis is pretty bad at narrative and emergent thinking.
* Data creates bigger haystacks. This is a point Nassim Taleb, the author of “Antifragile,” has made. As we acquire more data, we have the ability to find many, many more statistically significant correlations. Most of these correlations are spurious and deceive us when we’re trying to understand a situation.
* Big data has trouble with big (e.g. societal) problems.
* Data favors memes over masterpieces. Data analysis can detect when large numbers of people take an instant liking to some cultural product. But many important (and profitable) products are hated initially because they are unfamiliar. [The unfamiliar has to accomplish behavioural change / bridge cultural divides]
* Data obscures hidden/implicit value judgements. I recently saw an academic book with the excellent title, “ ‘Raw Data’ Is an Oxymoron.” One of the points was that data is never raw; it’s always structured according to somebody’s predispositions and values. The end result looks disinterested, but, in reality, there are value choices all the way through, from construction to interpretation.

This is not to argue that big data isn’t a great tool. It’s just that, like any tool, it’s good at some things and not at others. As the Yale professor Edward Tufte has said, “The world is much more interesting than any one discipline.”
massive_data_sets  David_Brooks  data_driven  decision_making  data  Nassim_Taleb  contrarians  skepticism  new_graduates  contextual  risks  social_cognition  self-deception  correlations  value_judgements  haystacks  narratives  memes  unfamiliarity  naivete  hidden  Edward_Tufte  emotions  antifragility  behavioral_change  new_products  cultural_products  masterpieces  EQ  emotional_intelligence 
february 2013 by jerryking
Rumsfeld: Know the Unknowns -
APRIL 4, 2011| WSJ | By L. GORDON CROVITZ. Before 9/11,
Rumsfeld distributed to colleagues a comment about Pearl Harbor by
economist Thomas Schelling: "There is a tendency in our planning to
confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Rumsfeld focuses on
unknown unknowns in order to encourage more "intellectual humility" ."It
is difficult to accept—to know—that there may be important unknowns."
"In the run-up to the war in Iraq, we heard a great deal about what our
intel community knew or thought they knew," he writes, "but not enough
about what they knew they didn't know." Policy makers can't afford to
be paralyzed by a lack of info., inaction by the world's superpower has
its own risks. Instead, Rumsfeld says the known known of info. gaps
should force a more robust give-and-take between policy makers &
intelligence analysts, allowing analysts to understand what policymakers
need to know & policymakers to understand what info. they can and
cannot get from intelligence.


The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

— Department of Defense news briefing, February 12, 2002
Donald_Rumsfeld  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  memoirs  decision_making  security_&_intelligence  information_gaps  humility  uncertainty  cost_of_inaction  unknowns  Thomas_Schelling  improbables  quotes  unfamiliarity  SecDef  superpowers  policymakers  policymaking  intelligence_analysts 
april 2011 by jerryking

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