Why Big Data Is Not Truth

5. June 2013

Date: 04-06-2013
Source: The New York Times By QUENTIN HARDY

The word “data” connotes fixed numbers inside hard grids of information, and as a result, it is easily mistaken for fact. But including bad product introductions and wars, we have many examples of bad data causing big mistakes.

Big Data raises bigger issues. The term suggests assembling many facts to create greater, previously unseen truths. It suggests the certainty of math.

That promise of certainty has been a hallmark of the technology industry for decades. With Big Data, however, there are even more hazards, some human and some inherent in the technology.

Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft Research, calls the problem “Big Data fundamentalism — the idea with larger data sets, we get closer to objective truth.” Speaking at a conference in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, she identified what she calls “six myths of Big Data.”

Myth 1: Big Data is New

In 1997, there was a paper that discussed the difficulty of visualizing Big Data, and in 1999, a paper that discussed the problems of gaining insight from the numbers in Big Data. That indicates that two prominent issues today in Big Data, display and insight, had been around for awhile.

“But now it’s reaching us in new ways,” because of the scale and prevalence of Big Data, Ms. Crawford said. That also means it is a widespread social phenomenon, like mobile phones were in the 1990s, that “generates a lot of comment, and then disappears into the background, as something that’s just part of life.”

Myth 2: Big Data Is Objective Read the rest of this entry »

Ein neuer Papst – und die falschen Anforderungskriterien?

12. March 2013

von Helmut F. Karner, am Tag des Beginns des Konklaves (12/3) A_524-01-215

Gott sei Dank heisst es ja, der Heilige Geist hätte bereits den richtigen Papst gewählt, die 115 Kardinäle müssten nur noch herausfinden, wer es sei.

Das kann man nur hoffen (tat er es auch das letzte Mal?), denn der Dilettantismus, mit dem die grösste Organisation der Erde mit ihrer wichtigsten Personalentscheidung umgeht, ist nur mit Liederlichkeit zu beschreiben.

Wie würde eine professionelle Organisation damit umgehen:

  1. Eine genaue Zustandsanalyse erstellen, wohl ein bisschen länger als die Meetings der Kardinäle der vergangenen Woche
  2. Ein präzises Anforderungsprofil erarbeiten, in dem die Lösungsfähigkeit des jetzigen (unerträglichen) Zustandes angesprochen wird, zusammen mit den Kriterien Alter, Herkunft, Persönlichkeit, Charismen/Talente, Entwicklungsfähigkeit, fachliche und Managementqualifikationen
  3. Scouting, Scouting, Scouting. Warum macht das der CF Barcelona so, Bayern München, jeder bessere Konzern, die Kirche aber nicht? Ein neuer Papst muss ja kirchenrechtlich nach überhaupt nicht Kardinal sein, daher hätte man auch ernsthaft außerhalb der 115 suchen müssen. Dazu ist es wohl jetzt zu spät. Hätte man das mit den Anforderungskriterien des Alters z.B. ernst gemeint, dann gibt es wohl unter den im Konklave Vertretenen wohl nur 2-3 mögliche Kandidaten.
  4. Wenn wir heute für ein Unternehmen eine exekutive Führungskraft suchen, dann zählt in der Gewichtung:
    • 40% Leadership-Fähigkeiten, also eindeutig das Wichtigste. “A leader is someone who has inspired and energized followers”. Es gibt “Transformational Leadership” (im jetzigen Zustand der Kirche wohl wichtig – a la Johannes XXIII), aber auch “Transactional Leadership” (wie Mutter Theresa, ein rezenter Papst fällt mir dazu nicht ein – ausser vielleicht der frühe Wojtyla!). Und es gibt oft Menschen an der Spitze, die überhaupt keine Leadership Fähigkeit haben (dazu fallen mir wieder ein paar rezente Päpste ein!) “Leadership is to take people from where they are to where they have not been before!”
      Was unterscheidet übrigens “Great” Leaders von “Good” Leaders? Die Grossen haben noch zwei zusätzliche Eigenschaften: Demut/Bescheidenheit  und Konsequenz/Durchhaltevermögen! Read the rest of this entry »

Robot ethics: Morals and the machine

1. June 2012

Date: 01-06-2012
Source: The Economist

As robots grow more autonomous, society needs to develop rules to manage them

IN THE classic science-fiction film “2001”, the ship’s computer, HAL, faces a dilemma. His instructions require him both to fulfil the ship’s mission (investigating an artefact near Jupiter) and to keep the mission’s true purpose secret from the ship’s crew. To resolve the contradiction, he tries to kill the crew.

As robots become more autonomous, the notion of computer-controlled machines facing ethical decisions is moving out of the realm of science fiction and into the real world. Society needs to find ways to ensure that they are better equipped to make moral judgments than HAL was. Read the rest of this entry »

One country, two revolutions

24. October 2011

Tom Friedman, NYT. 23-10.

The latest phase in the I.T. revolution is being driven by the convergence of social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, Zynga — with the proliferation of cheap wireless connectivity and Web-enabled smartphones and “the cloud” — those enormous server farms that hold and constantly update thousands of software applications, which are then downloaded (as if from a cloud) by users on their smartphones, making them into incredibly powerful devices that can perform myriad tasks.

Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, a cloud-based software provider, describes this phase of the I.T. revolution with the acronym SOCIAL. S, he says, is for speed — everything is now happening faster. O, he says, stands for open. If you don’t have an open environment inside your company or country, these new tools will blow you wide open. C is for collaboration because this revolution enables people to organize themselves within companies and societies into loosely coupled teams to take on any kind of challenges — from designing a new product to taking down a government. I is for individuals, who are able to reach around the globe to start something or collaborate on something farther, faster, deeper, cheaper than ever before — as individuals. A is for alignment. “There has never been a more important time to have all your ships sailing in the same direction,” said Benioff. “The power of social media is that it is easier than ever to both articulate, and reinforce, the vision and values that create and inspire alignment.” And L is for the leadership that does that. Leadership in a SOCIAL world has to be a mix of bottom-up and top-down. Leaders need to inspire, enable and empower everything coming up from below in a company or a social movement and then edit and sculpt it with a vision from above into a final product.

Read the whole article: http://fbkfinanzwirtschaft.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/one-country-two-revolutions/

Something is Happening Here

12. October 2011

Date: 12-10-2011


When you see spontaneous social protests erupting from Tunisia to Tel Aviv to Wall Street, it’s clear that something is happening globally that needs defining. There are two unified theories out there that intrigue me. One says this is the start of “The Great Disruption.” The other says that this is all part of “The Big Shift.” You decide. 

Read further: http://fbkfinanzwirtschaft.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/something%e2%80%99s-happening-here/

Roger Martin Interview

28. July 2011

“The Model of Capitalism is Broken!”

Interview about his latest book “Fixing the Game” in “Thinkers 50”

The 100 greatest non-fiction books

20. June 2011

The Guardian, 14/6

After keen debate at the Guardian’s books desk, this is our list of the very best factual writing, organised by category, and then by date.


(Naja, hfk)

The Human Genome Project was just the starting point

26. April 2011

Date: 24-04-2011
 Source: The Guardian
A gene for this and a gene for that? No – we’re only beginning to unravel the complex genetics of human characteristics

You are a beautiful and unique snowflake. Soon there will be 7 billion humans on Earth, and yet with Dr Seussian confidence I can state that “there is no one alive who is Youer than You”. Even if you are an identical twin, you’ll know that you are not exactly the same as your sibling. This is borne out in the DNA of identical twins, whose genetic code diverges in small but measurable ways during their lives.

Uniqueness is literally in our DNA. The template for that individuality is in the 3bn units of genetic code that we carry in our cells. Couple that with the fact that our experiences and environments are unique, and influence how our genetic code plays out, and you have a model for irreproducibility. Scientists no longer say “nature versus nurture”, as it is clear that these two are not in conflict, but in collaboration. A better phrase is “nature via nurture”: the combination makes you you. Read the rest of this entry »

30 Things We Need — and 30 We Don’t

11. March 2011

HBR Blog 12:01 PM Tuesday March 8, 2011  Share on LinkedIn

Do you have the feeling, as I do, that in the tsunami of everyday life, we’re getting too much of stuff we don’t need, and not enough of what we do? Herewith my first set of suggestions about how to redress the imbalance:

Information Wisdom
Shallow billionaires Passionate teachers
Self-promotion Self-awareness
Multitasking Control of our attention
Inequality Fairness
Sugar Lean protein
Action Reflection
Super sizes Smaller portions
Private jets High-speed trains
Calculation Passion
Experts Learners
Blaming Taking responsibility
Judgment Discernment
Texting Reading
Anger Empathy
Output Depth
Constructive criticism Thank-you notes
Possessions Meaning
Righteousness Doing the right thing
Answers Curiosity
Long hours Longer sleep
Complaining Gratitude
Sitting Moving
Selling Authenticity
Cynicism Realistic optimism
Self-indulgence Self-control
Speed Renewal
Emails Conversations
Winning Win-win
Immediate gratification Sacrifice

The answering machine

19. February 2011

Date: 19-02-2011
 Source: The Economist – The Difference Engine

IT WAS not quite a foregone conclusion, but all the smart money was on the machine.

Since the first rehearsal over a year ago, it had become apparent that Watson—a supercomputer built by IBM to decode tricky questions posed in English and answer them correctly within seconds—would trounce the smartest of human challengers. And so it did earlier this week, following a three-day contest against the two most successful human champions of all time on “Jeopardy!”, a popular quiz game aired on American television. By the end of the contest, Watson had accumulated over $77,000 in winnings, compared with $24,000 and $21,600 for the two human champions. IBM donated the $1m in special prize money to charity, while the two human contestants gave half their runner-up awards away. Read the rest of this entry »