Philosophy on Top

9. April 2014

Date: 09-04-2014
Source: Project Syndicate

PETER SINGER

Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, is the author of Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, One World, The Ethics of What We Eat (with Jim Mason), The Life You Can Save, and the forthcoming The Point of View of the Universe (with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek). In 2013, he was named the world’s third “most influential contemporary thinker” by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.

MELBOURNE – Last year, a report from Harvard University set off alarm bells, because it showed that the proportion of students in the United States completing bachelor’s degrees in the humanities fell from 14% to 7%. Even elite universities like Harvard itself have experienced a similar decrease. Moreover, the decline seems to have become steeper in recent years. There is talk of a crisis in the humanities.

I don’t know enough about the humanities as a whole to comment on what is causing enrollments to fall. Perhaps many humanities disciplines are not seen as likely to lead to fulfilling careers, or to any careers at all. Maybe that is because some disciplines are failing to communicate to outsiders what they do and why it matters. Or, difficult as it may be to accept, maybe it is not just a matter of communication: Perhaps some humanities disciplines really have become less relevant to the exciting and fast-changing world in which we live.

I state these possibilities without reaching a judgment about any of them. What I do know something about, however, is my own discipline, philosophy, which, through its practical side, ethics, makes a vital contribution to the most urgent debates that we can have.

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Get Familiar With Big Data Now—or Face ‘Permanent Pink Slip’

9. April 2014

Date: 09-04-2014
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Big data salariesDemand Rises for Analytics Professionals, Data Scientists

Sick of hearing about Big Data? Get used to it. Whether you believe analytics is a tired corporate buzzword or the key to future business growth, hundreds of companies are searching, and paying richly, for hires with quantitative skills.

During her three decades at the helm of executive recruiter Burtch Works, Linda Burtch has tracked the rising demand for workers who can understand and manipulate data. She has worked with clients such as Darden Restaurants Inc., Jack in the Box, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Foot Locker Inc. and other big firms to staff the teams responsible for understanding, for example, how marketing affects consumer behavior.

Ms. Burtch says, “it’s a candidate’s market right now.” According to recent surveys of Burtch Works’ contacts, analytics professionals—from entry-level data analysts to executives—earn a median base salary of $90,000 annually, rising to a median of $145,000 for managers. And the group’s just-released study of data scientists, a subset of the larger group, found that nonmanagers earn a median base salary of $120,000. (Data scientists work with large, unstructured sets of data. Analytics professionals generally deal with structured data sets, Ms. Burtch says.)

Not yet a quantitative expert? Better brush up. In a recent interview, the Chicago-based Ms. Burch talked about what companies want, how midcareer professionals can compete and why workers who are left behind could face a “permanent pink slip.” Edited excerpts:

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