NYC Data Skeptics Meetup #1

Please join us for our first Data Skeptics Meetup. Our presenter is Suresh Naidu, Assistant Professor in Economics and International and Public Affairs. See more at: http://new.sipa.columbia.edu/faculty/suresh-naidu#sthash.8R7oGePE.dpuf

 

Political Uses and Abuses of Data

While a lot has been made of the use of technology for election campaigns, little discussion has focused on other political uses of data. From targeting dissidents and tax-evaders to organizing protests, the same datasets and analytics that let data scientists do prediction of consumer and voter behavior can also be used to forecast political opponents, mobilize likely leaders, solve collective problems and generally push people around. In this discussion, Suresh will put this in a 1000 year government data-collection perspective, and talk about how data science might be getting used in authoritarian countries, both by regimes and their opponents.

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  • Ravishankar P.

    Steven, As i missed this session, can you please share the recordings and slides ? Thanks.

    August 6, 2013

  • Christina G.

    stimulating talk about (a) whether or not (big) data can be used to predict behavior especially at any kind of disaggregated level; and (b) given that (a) seems increasingly possible, what we should do individually as citizens and data scientist and as society as a whole to understand, monitor and deal with data usage by public and private entities.

    2 · June 24, 2013

    • Blake W.

      To your point Jacki. Could data be used by politicians to adjust policy to reflect sentiment of people or will they just tailor each message to specifically target each individual vote? An analogy could be a company that doesn't have the best products but who's digital advertising strategy is top notch.

      1 · June 24, 2013

    • Zachary

      I don't know, how often is policy based on public sentiment instead of market interests? Public sentiment is most often the instrument of electoral campaigns. For data to shape policy, we will need convene / construct a system that utilizes our data to affect markets. I presume this is the new (marketized) form of collective bargaining. It will happen via a 'reddit-like' mechanism that reveals operational checksums, verify-able from the open source code via monitoring by a high-reputation party like the EFF + independent (probably academic) researchers. I am very interested in systems of this nature, if we can talk about them at a future meetup, or PM me.

      June 28, 2013

  • John Peter S.

    Good foundational talk. The results one gets by analyzing a problem with lots of data is how to extract meaning from the dross. Accuracy at times is sacrificed for confidence. It is these trade offs that we all have to be concerned about.

    June 25, 2013

  • Jacki B.

    It would seem to be a fair argument, if one were to ask for increased transparency from a government or corporation in return for access to data. An even trade, so to speak!

    June 25, 2013

  • Lee B.

    Suresh's thousand-year history got at the really important point that governments collect data on us but cannot credibly commit to never doing bad things with it. Laws change, especially in wartime. Internment facilitated by census data is one example, but also think of previous administrations trying to discredit opponents via surveillance and blackmail. Consider NSA in that light.

    Suresh also talked about big data in the private realm: consumers give up personal data and businesses use that to price-discriminate. The distributional effects sound ambiguous to me, so I couldn't get too exercised about this.

    There was brief mention of racial categories in Brazil. I would like to hear more. There was a Slate article a few years back about how Americans created the notion of "hispanic" out of thin air. Inventing social categories -- a good topic for another evening? All-in-all a great presentation, lots of cool people in attendance, and a real diversity of opinion.

    Lee

    1 · June 24, 2013

  • Danny C.

    great talk. glad i could make it. made me think of isaac asimov's foundation trilogy. and look - a magazine cover featuring asimov is the meetup group's "logo"...

    3 · June 24, 2013

  • Shannon F.

    Would love to hear more discussion about big data, including thoughts and ideas from applied data users as well.

    2 · June 24, 2013

  • Blake W.

    As I sit on the bus home driving through different neighborhoods of the city I've become more skeptical. While data captures incredible things it also records racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice. When models rely on such data they are potentially in many ways propagating these same prejudices.

    1 · June 24, 2013

  • Alec Z.

    Agh, can't make it. Sad to miss it!

    June 24, 2013

  • Howard G.

    Last minute changes in my schedule mean I won't be able to attend,.

    June 24, 2013

  • Ashley C.

    Last minute thing. Can't go. Look forward to the recap!

    June 24, 2013

  • Yen

    Any small group discussion at a coffee shop afterwards? : )

    June 24, 2013

  • Andrew M.

    Sorry, can't make it. Hope it goes well!

    June 24, 2013

  • Zachary

    I was dearly looking forward to this, but now must cancel. I would love if there were any transcription, recording, or collection of slides. I think this group has a great theme and is enjoy contributing. Cheers to the one who gets my spot.

    June 24, 2013

    • Alec Z.

      +1 Slides please!

      June 24, 2013

  • John C.

    Due to a last minute event, I can no longer make it. I look forward to future events.

    June 24, 2013

  • Max L.

    If I get here at 8, will it be pretty much over?

    June 23, 2013

    • Steven M.

      Max, the speaker will begin around 7:30p and I suspect we''ll wrap up by 845p or so.

      June 24, 2013

  • Zachary

    Pity

    June 24, 2013

  • Michael A. L.

    Due to the date change, I won't be able to make it but look forward to coming some other time

    June 24, 2013

  • Mike S.

    Unfortunately, with the change in the date, I won't be able to make it this month. I look forward to attending later this summer.

    June 23, 2013

  • Kevin B.

    Drat! Just found this group and narrowly missed out. I'd love to attend if seats open up. Regardless, looking forward to future meetings.

    June 18, 2013

  • Cynthia W.

    I'll be out of town, but definitely missing this

    June 18, 2013

  • Jonathan S.

    Will look for event #2. Schedule change means I can no longer attend

    June 17, 2013

  • Deborah M.

    I'm a philosopher of statistics, mainly interested in the foundations of statistical inference and developing a new way to interpret statistical tests and intervals to avoid fallacies. Mayo errorstatistics.com

    June 16, 2013

  • Tom L.

    Unfortunately I won't be able to make it after all. Have a great meeting!

    June 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will come depending on the location., If it is reasonably near and walk-able from the Port Authority or Penn Station NYC I will come and take public transportation. When will a location be announced? :)

    June 12, 2013

  • Tamara C.

    Looking forward

    May 31, 2013

  • Zachary

    Would like to see this come together. I have no space to offer at this time.

    May 28, 2013

  • Dennylicious!

    1

    May 12, 2013

  • John Peter S.

    I think we lose site of the ethics and privacy issues involved in analysis of data big or small.

    1 · May 6, 2013

    • Steven M.

      This would indeed be a good topic and one we hope to address in this forum.

      1 · May 7, 2013

  • eli j.

    I'd say that any phrase with a trend chart like this should set off all bullshit alarms and possibly will other bullshit detecting alarms into existence:

    http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=%22data%20science%22

    But maybe my laziness has led me to lean on heuristics that are too simple.

    May 7, 2013

    • Ryan W.

      Also, look at the countries involved. Truth is, many people have been doing "data science" for a long time. It used to be called "clever engineering" or "critical thinking".

      May 7, 2013

    • Vietnhi P.

      You missed the boat - Data Science started in WWII when we went through large amounts of data and worked out from that data the optimal escort configuration for our Atlantic convoys.

      May 7, 2013

  • Kimberley M.

    At the least, a bubble.. I think there is a real core of value that will be sustained; but 90% hype at this point...

    Great chart.. thanks for pointing it out

    May 7, 2013

  • John C.

    Normally out of town on Wednesdays, but if I am in town I will attend.

    May 6, 2013

  • Kimberley M.

    With a background in data analysis of many shapes, sizes and sources, and looking forward to jumping into the ocean of big data in the cloud.. Particularly interested in the underlying assumptions of analytical techniques and how to verify assumptions to avoid egregious errors.

    1 · May 6, 2013

  • Tom L.

    I'm a mathematician interested in applications to social science and machine learning. The group & meetup sound excellent, and I'm looking forward to attending. Thanks for organizing, Steven!

    May 4, 2013

  • Christopher E.

    Grad student in public policy with a tentative and slight pro-big data slant. Sounds like a good group - looking forward to it. One vote for the UWS as venue.

    1 · May 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Unfortunately I have a conflicting event Wednesday evening.

    May 4, 2013

  • mark

    If you need a venue, we have a lovely room at the J-School.

    May 4, 2013

  • Gary Z.

    Look forward to meeting & sharing with you

    May 4, 2013

  • Deborah M.

    Would a philosopher of statistics fit into this group? I certainly satisfy the skeptical part. Might have a location...
    errorstatistics.com

    May 3, 2013

  • Ted O.

    Looking forward to it!

    May 3, 2013

  • Jason W.

    Looking forward to it!

    1 · May 3, 2013

  • Jessica K.

    can't wait!

    May 3, 2013

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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