The Problem With Big Data

I know how many steps I take per day. But these get recorded on a pedometer, not an Internet connected device with algorithms on the back end. As a result, I don’t get push messages telling me how close or behind I am to reaching my goals. I just know some basics.

I love data. It allows us to make wise decisions about where, when, and how to move forward.

But I still believe data is really bad at predicting human emotion. Music, for example, is hard to recommend. There are special algorithms in Pandora that suggest new tracks in accordance to our tastes.

Based on my own experience, rarely does Pandora play something interesting and of good quality. Music, like books and movies, is not something you can predict with precision. Human Genome projects are great for recommendations and starting points but they try to plan too much. And it’s because we let them to, outsourcing responsibility.

The best part about the analog world is discovering something that aggregated data can’t predict. Discovery occurs through randomness as much as it does through suggested data. The data doesn’t know you’re open to completely new things; it’s going to keep feeding you the same stuff within that niche.

Machines that dictate our action dictate our behavior. Plugging out, being open, is just as important as being plugged in. The best recommendation engine may be yourself.

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