Show me what you can do with that big data set

"They have lots of terabytes but few major insights."  

There are a few truths entering 2020 we can be sure of: Australia is still on fire, London's police are using facial recognition to identify criminals in public spaces, the Wuhan virus is scaring people, America is battling withdrawals from an Opioid overdose, and everybody continues to lie.

Round-the-clock media coverage doesn't let us forget and somewhere in the sad bag, there's a story about another company invading our privacy. We are living through an explosion of information and data fueling AI to help us predict the future more accurately than ever, so why do have more problems than solutions?

The Task at Hand: 

Since the birth of the World Wide Web, digital data has become one of the world's most valuable resources. Companies, new and old, are racing to squeeze data points from consumers to take more meaningful action aimed to do what? To sell harder, faster, stronger. Big tech emphasizes how large its data sets are, but apart from increasing shareholder value and freakishly accurate re-targeting, what good are we getting in return?

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, data scientist and author of "Everybody Lies”, put it best: "Too many data scientist today are accumulating massive sets of data and telling us very little of importance. Too many businesses are drowning in data. They have lots of terabytes but few major insights." 

The Solution Proposed:

Hidden in the massive data piles that companies sit on are invaluable human behavior triggers such as telling symptoms that lead to a devastating diagnosis, concerns before suicidal intent and racist sentiment swaying campaign outcomes to name only a few. Seth's book published in 2017 shows how big data sets can reveal humanity's inner feelings.

181 CEOs from the likes of Amazon, Abbott, J&J, Apple made a commitment by joining the Business Roundtable in 2019, a few terms of agreement is as follows:

  • Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.

  • The Business Roundtable strives to inform the public dialogue and assist the policy process through in-depth research and reports, economic analysis, congressional testimony and correspondence with federal lawmakers.

There is agreeing to be better and there is putting data where your mouth is. Their latest “in-depth research report” was released in 2018.

Along with every annual report, it should be mandatory to share data sets government agencies, research bodies can use to build solutions before problems become part of never ending news cycles.  

“Everybody Lies” revealed one of the most common diseases people searched for before triggering a suicide search was ‘herpes’. Suicide has been on the rise in America since 2000, imagine what could have been done equipping public health workers, parents and educators with knowledge?

Where do people go for a quick diagnosis if experiencing a cough and body aches? Google. Imagine if China’s top search engine Baidu had reported a spike in people searching for flu-like symptoms and alerted the government? Perhaps the coronavirus could have been contained earlier.

Like most issues in society, we spend more time, money and energy on cures than prevention, let's change that. 

Give us your big data, we can handle it.