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What is the use of lots of data when we don’t know what they mean?

There are lots of sources for data on Covid-19. Many of them just take data from government or hospital sources, and let you compare them however you want to. Others are a little more careful. Financial Times data journalists outline some of the problems:

Comparing the spread of coronavirus in different countries is difficult using the data being released by governments. Confirmed case counts depend heavily on the extent of countries’ very different testing regimes, so higher totals may simply reflect more testing.

Deaths are somewhat more reliable, but remain problematic because countries have different rules for what deaths to include in their official numbers. 

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What is the use of lots of data when we don’t know what they mean?
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They are what they’re taught: The need for AI data curation ethics

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to a bunch of computer algorithms used to build machines capable of carrying out tasks that typically require human intelligence. These machines learn particular tasks based on the data we generate. Similar to an old saying “We are what we eat,” the performance of an AI system depends on how and what we “teach” it.  Thus, the data collected and used are fundamental to training AI systems.

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They are what they’re taught: The need for AI data curation ethics
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Peanut butter, anyone?

There is a lot of talk about how this ghastly pandemic is affecting the economy. The other day, I came across an article in the The New York Times which focused on one facet of this topic: inflation in the UK. Forecasting inflation right now is difficult because of the pandemic: sudden changes in consumer spending, disruptions in supply chains, and government interventions ameliorate its effects.

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Peanut butter, anyone?
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Did Hamlet wish for better data?

To open or not to open? that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Did Hamlet wish for better data? 

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Did Hamlet wish for better data?
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How data privacy methods can hide the real data story

When state governments within the United States issued stay-at-home orders in 2020, companies started providing interactive data visualizations and dashboards to show how well or not so well certain regions of the United States were social distancing. Unacast, a technology company out of New York state, was one of them. They gathered smartphone data from up to 15 percent of people in every county of the United States, and then assigned grades to each state based on how much smartphone users traveled after COVID-19 related closures, compared to before.

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How data privacy methods can hide the real data story
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Data for whom? Being mindful of racial disparities

As the United States makes progress towards a state of “normality,” the country has set an incredible pace for vaccine production and distribution. But what information is lost in the big picture?

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Data for whom? Being mindful of racial disparities