Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Election #DataScience and the Death of Truth | @CloudExpo #BigData #Analytics

Many candidates treated opinions as ‘truth’ and a large portion of the American public grabbed ahold of these ‘truths’ as gospel

The U.S. Presidential election is finally over. The protests are winding down, they’ve stopped burning cars in Oakland (for now), and the talks of California succession are waning. But I am struggling to return to “normal” because in this election, truth got hammered.

Many candidates treated opinions as “truth” and a large portion of the American public grabbed a hold of these “truths” as gospel. It may have been a good time to be in the “fact checking” business, but I’m not sure how effective even the fact checkers could be given the spontaneous nature of “opinions as facts” being thrown around, not to mention the people who create fake news intentionally.

So let’s play a game! Let’s call this game “Separate the Truth from the Myths.” Let’s see how you do.

  1. Bat Boy Sighted in NYC Subway (probably too expensive to get a condo in Manhattan)
  2. Obama Appoints Martian Ambassador (but the Senate will request Matt Damon since he’s already lived and farmed on Mars)
  3. Skynet is a Reality (Hey, even Iron Man showed up at the Senate to tell them so!)
  4. Ted Cruz Shot JFK (okay, so it actually was his dad, but accusing Ted Cruz is more funny)

All but one of these stories appeared in the highly credible “National Enquirer” or “Weekly World News.” That’s like buying a copy of the “Mad Magazine” (for you old timers) or reading “The Onion” (for you young whippersnappers) expecting the “truth” from these satirical publications (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Real Headlines from “Less Than Credible” Sources

However the below stories in Figure 2 where plastered across social media sites as if they were the truth, and as you can see from the engagement numbers, lots of people took the time to read these “truths.”

Figure 2: Social Media Fake News and Number of Views

Data Science And Common Sense
As a data scientist, we need to know not to accept the “truth” without applying some common sense. For all the fancy training in neural networks, artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s hard to replace “common sense” as a necessary data scientist characteristic. Let’s walk through an example of how a data scientist might approach one of the sensational stories that recently popped up on social media (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: The Guardian, September 26, 2016

OMG, murders are up 10.8% in the biggest percentage increase since 1971, according to a highly credible source like the FBI. It’s become the “Walking Dead” out there!

Sensational headlines grab attention and incite fear and dread. “Dirty Laundry” sells. But the problem with data at the aggregate level is that it:

  • Distorts the real truth (or root cause) of what’s the problem, and
  • It is not actionable

The above headline could lead to the conclusion that the current criminal and rehabilitation policies have failed and everything should be thrown out. But there are no details as to what aspects of these programs are broken and no triage of the root causes in order to explore what might be done to fix the problem. As a data scientist, one must demand the granular details so that we can turn the data into insights in order to make the information actionable, such as:

This is a good starting point. If we want to address the increase in murders, we need to drill into each individual murder (and attempted murder) in those 10 cities. We need to keep drilling into the granular details in order to identify those variables and metrics that might be predictors of murders and attempted murders.

For example, we could identify the specific blocks of these cities where the murders are occurring, or the time of day and day of week, or the time of the year, or any special events that occurred right before the murders, etc. We could explore other variables that might be indicative of an increase in murder (e.g., % of broken homes, % of children born out of wedlock, % of high school dropouts, % of drug addicts, unemployment rate among male adults, increase in graffiti).

Once we know those variables that are predictive of murders, then we have a focus as to where we can start fixing the problem, taking corrective actions such as adding more police or community outreach, reducing high school dropouts, increasing drug arrests, testing different programs and approaches, measuring program effectiveness, learning and improving. Now that’s thinking like a data scientist.

Data Scientist Lessons Learned
What are the lessons that we can take away from this “opinions as facts” syndrome?

  • Common sense is critical. Don’t accept “truths” at face value. Demand more details in order to identify and quantify those variables and metrics that might be predictive or indicative of the researched problem.
  • You can’t fix the business – or the country – without drilling into the details and the potential causal factors. We need insights that are drawn from facts that are supported by granular data so that we know what actions to take. With these detailed insights in hand, we now know where to invest our scarce financial and human resources.
  • Details matter. At the aggregate level, the headlines may be sensational, but it is not insightful or actionable until you get into the details. Remember Simpson’s Paradox.
  • Data quality, accuracy and reasonableness are important, especially if you are trying to make business-impactful decisions based upon that data. Business users, if they are expected to use the data to support decisions, must have confidence in the data. “Facts as Facts” are critical if we want to overcome decisions being made on a traditional basis such as gut, hearsay and history.

The good data scientist learns not to trust anything at first blush; that while opinions might yield variables and metrics that might be better predictors of performance, in the end the data scientists need to validate each of these variables and metrics to quantify if they really are better predictors of performance.

In the movie “Star Wars: The New Hope," the weak-minded Storm Troopers were easily dissuaded from pursuing the truth about the droids by Obi-Wan Kenobi’s use of the Jedi Mind Trick to plant the “truth” in their weak minds.

Don’t be weak-minded about seeking the truth. Use your common sense to challenge the “truth,” and get into the granular details so that one can identify and quantify those variables and metrics that are better predictor or indicators of the problems.

And beware the “These aren’t the Droids you’re looking for” syndrome. That’s for the weak-minded.

The post Election Data Science and the Death of Truth appeared first on InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services.

More Stories By William Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo, author of “Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business”, is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service line offerings and capabilities for the EMC Global Services organization. As part of Bill’s CTO charter, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He’s written several white papers, avid blogger and is a frequent speaker on the use of Big Data and advanced analytics to power organization’s key business initiatives. He also teaches the “Big Data MBA” at the University of San Francisco School of Management.

Bill has nearly three decades of experience in data warehousing, BI and analytics. Bill authored EMC’s Vision Workshop methodology that links an organization’s strategic business initiatives with their supporting data and analytic requirements, and co-authored with Ralph Kimball a series of articles on analytic applications. Bill has served on The Data Warehouse Institute’s faculty as the head of the analytic applications curriculum.

Previously, Bill was the Vice President of Advertiser Analytics at Yahoo and the Vice President of Analytic Applications at Business Objects.

Latest Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...