Moore’s Law states that computing power doubles every two years. This means that the field of data science is constantly evolving as computers become more powerful.
As 2019 draws to a close we thought we’d take a look at some of the biggest headlines of the year concerning data.
1. The rise of the Citizen Data Scientist
As more free or cheap data analytics tools hit the market, and governments become better at proactively releasing big data sets the last few years have seen the emergence of the concept of the Citizen Data Scientist – essentially someone who does data science as a hobby or in their spare time, often without any formal training.
Gartner (who originally created the term Citizen Data Scientist back in 2016) is predicting that next year we will reach a tipping point – citizen data scientists will surpass data scientists in the amount of advanced analytics produced.
This opens huge questions around accuracy and the value of trained skills.
2. Google’s Quantum Computing breakthrough
This year saw a major advance in computer science that will quickly change the face of big data and analytics.
They reportedly achieved quantum supremacy – where a functional quantum computer was able to perform a task faster than any existing classical computer.
This proves that the theory behind a quantum computer is viable and will only spur on additional investment in this cutting-edge field.
The increased computing power available will mean increased collection of data and more powerful artificial intelligence to analyse it.
Quantum computing is on the way. And it will change the world.
3. Consumer data privacy improvements
The fallout from the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal continues. Consumers are more aware than ever of risks to their own data privacy – here in Australia over 2.5 million citizens opted out of the Federal Government’s My Health Record digital health system by the time of the close off period in February of this year.
Back in February OpenAI announced that they had developed an artificial intelligence algorithm so powerful at natural language processing that it was able to write believable fake news. In a world where social media is filled with fake news, many people found this understandably unnerving.
Over the course of the year they performed a staged release of the technology and by July had released the GPT2 algorithm in full.
OpenAI claim they so far they have seen “no strong evidence of misuse” – but if it is so good, then there may be no way of seeing how it is already being used to spread misinformation.
You can explore a demo of the algorithm here.
5. The Apple Credit Card and algorithmic bias
Tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson made global news with a series of tweets claiming that his Goldman Sachs backed Apple Credit Card gave him a credit limit 20 times greater than his wife, despite the fact that the couples file tax returns jointly.
The @AppleCard is such a fucking sexist program. My wife and I filed joint tax returns, live in a community-property state, and have been married for a long time. Yet Apple’s black box algorithm thinks I deserve 20x the credit limit she does. No appeals work.— DHH (@dhh) November 7, 2019
This opened the door to questions around algorithmic bias.
Goldman Sachs denied accusations of bias and offered to reevaluate credit limits on a case-by-case basis.
This leads to some big questions. Could a credit limit algorithm be sexist? How much transparency should there be on algorithms and the decisions they make.