How to become Neo from the Matrix with Data Science…
How deep does the technology rabbit hole go?
People often talk about the technological revolution and the information age as some kind of sci-fi breakthrough into another dimension. They make it sound as though humanity has finally opened pandora’s box and has found the holy grail of evolution which will ascend us into some kind of next-level existence which we’ve never experienced or have been able to imagine since the birth of modern civilization about 6000 years ago. Buzzwords like “Big Data”, “AI”, “Machine Learning”, “Algorithms” and more, pop up hundreds of times a day on our newsfeeds, making us feel so advanced as a race. Some say that we might have 99% of lethal diseases eradicated in a few years, others are talking about uploading human consciousness to synthetic bodies so we can live forever, and I’m sure we’ve all heard about Elon Musk’s theory that AI will take over a huge percentage of jobs in 10–15 years and a big portion of the population might end up living off universal income and enjoying life while AI is performing automated tasks around the clock on no sleep and with a very minimal margin of error. Self-driving cars will lower the rate of human error and accidents while we take a nap in our driver’s seat on our way to work or practice some chair Yoga in our car to keep our minds and bodies young and healthy. So, should we just sit back and enjoy the ride as we wait for the AI magic to happen? In other words, does the technology revolution guarantee all these exciting scientific breakthroughs that we’re projecting into the future?
The short answer is — it is up to all of us to decide!
Everyone has access to the same kind of information. So, what are you going to do with it that’s different than everyone else?
Would you rather do this?
Let’s just think about a few of the iconic innovators, also known as “geniuses,” throughout history and try to find the common link between them and why they were able to achieve major breakthroughs in their respective fields. Vincent Van Gough had access to the same canvases and the same colors and type of paints that everyone in his time did, but what made his art special was his unique way of combining them and looking at the world through the unique lens of his own imagination and creativity. Albert Einstein had access to the same books and formulas as everyone else, but it was also his unique way of looking at things and his free mind that allowed him to push the boundaries of imagination and come up with his theory of relativity. That’s how one of his most famous quotes below was born:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge”
I can list many more examples, such as Pablo Picasso (“when I run out of red, I use blue”), Nicholas Tesla, Elon Musk, but the point that I am trying to make is that there were many revolutionary scientific discoveries and inventions and lots of genius art that came to life many years before the so-called technological revolution. So, it is not just about the tools and the data, but about using them in a unique way. Being able to think outside the box and look at the world through the lens of your own imagination and creativity will help you ask unique questions and explore abstract ideas. When it comes to people who changed the world— be it with their, art, science, philosophy, religion, or leadership — they all had one thing in common — they were imaginative, crazy and courageous enough to dive into the ocean of unknown and dig deeper than 99% of people would dare to dig.
It’s called Data Science, not Data Scrabble…
“A dream without a plan is just a wish...”
Imagination and creativity play a huge role when trying to come up with an original idea and formulate interesting questions to ask. Most major scientific breakthroughs started as abstract philosophical concepts or unique hypotheses that needed to be tested.
This is where Science becomes more of an art…but just for a minute…then it quickly snaps out of its daydream and becomes Science again!
Once you‘re back from your daydream or your LSD trip (yes, there is an LSD micro-dosing group at Google, Facebook and even at more traditionally conservative places such as Wall Street)with your unique idea, it’s time to roll your sleeves and start working on a solid plan for finding the necessary data which will allow you to conduct your analysis, test your hypothesis, and answer your unique questions.
Being a Genius means nothing in itself, without a solid plan and a process for materializing that genius potential. Just think about how many genius ideas each one of you has had throughout your life (the shower pill, anyone?)that you never managed to pursue systematically which eventually just vanished into the void… And two years later you heard that someone else materialized your idea and made a billion dollars. Perhaps sometimes all the scrabble pieces will just fall into place for you, so you can “wing it” and make your experiment work without much major preparation and a methodical plan. But most of the time this will likely not work. This is where the Scientific Method comes into play!
The Scientific Method
So, let’s talk about the Scientific Method. It all starts with a question…
So here is my advice to you all in a few bullet points:
- Don't be afraid to be yourself — let your uniqueness and creativity guide you in your scientific pursuits. You can express yourself with data just like you would with paint, or movement, or musical instruments.
- Think big and think outside the box — if an idea sounds too crazy and too scary, then it’s probably worth pursuing! You might be onto something big, so if you believe in it, then have the courage to follow it, regardless of what everyone else is saying.
- Have a solid plan of action — use the scientific method and follow your process rigorously. Most people will not believe a revolutionary idea at first until you back it up with data and try to prove it using hypothesis testing and the scientific method.
- Don’t be afraid of failure — being wrong over and over again is just part of the journey. Most major successes are built on a solid foundation of a thousand micro-failures.
- Change your perspective to change the World!!!