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What We’re Reading August 2020

by Jitendra Subramanyam  |  August 31, 2020  |  Submit a Comment

This AI Expert from Senegal is Helping Showcase Africans in STEM

“It’s important to have role models, role models that look like you and representation matters, for it gives hope and courage to pursue one’s endeavors,” Dieng said, “That’s one reason behind why I created The Africa I Know, to give young Africans career role models they can look up to.”

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. (Use it to drive human-centered, data-driven decision-making!)

Instead of forcefully managing interpersonal relationships at work, she argues for vulnerability — having tough, truthful conversations without penalization. A wholehearted leader, Brown writes, manages by leading from the heart and isn’t threatened by showing her own imperfections.

Brown’s research translates to many fields because it’s about having successful interpersonal — and intrapersonal — relationships. Knowing oneself, having and enforcing boundaries, and recognizing limitations are leadership requirements but also requirements for having fulfilling relationships in general. To paraphrase Brown, we’re all just people.

Why Some People Think 2+2=5

Carr says he’s always been interested in the interaction between the “pure” mathematics and where those ideas are actually applied—in a sense, the colorful pane of glass we install in order to view math in our lives. “Here’s this thing off to the side and it’s called math. And over here you have real life, scientific method, and concrete things that are happening in the physical world,” he explains.

Predictive Policing Algorithms are Racist. They Need to Be Dismantled.

Police like the idea of tools that give them a heads-up and allow them to intervene early because they think it keeps crime rates down, says Rashida Richardson, director of policy research at the AI Now Institute. But in practice, their use can feel like harassment. Researchers have found that some police departments give officers “most wanted” lists of people the tool identifies as high risk. This first came to light when people in Chicago reported that police had been knocking on their doors and telling them they were being watched. In other states, says Richardson, police were warning people on the lists that they were at high risk of being involved in gang-related crime and asking them to take actions to avoid this. If they were later arrested for any type of crime, prosecutors used the prior warning to seek higher charges. “It’s almost like a digital form of entrapment, where you give people some vague information and then hold it against them,” she says.

Why OMB Gave Agencies Freedom on Chief Data Officers

As part of their work on the CDO council, CDOs will work with other department CDOs to develop best practices for data security and use. The agency’s CDO is “the person that we’re looking to for some of the governance activities and is the point person,” Kent said.

“Their responsibility is to represent what’s going on at the agency — it is not necessarily to do all the things that are going on at the agency,” Kent said.

Git for Data: Not a Silver Bullet

I’m broadly sympathetic to the goals that people who are working on “git for data” projects have. However, I continue to believe that it’s important to keep code separate from data and that if your data system is deterministic and append-only, then you can achieve all of your goals by using version-control for your code and then selectively applying transformations to subsets of the data to re-create the data state at any time. The motto remains:

Keep version control for your code, and keep a log for your data.

Working on a version control system for data instead of solving the problem of not having an immutable log of your source data seems like investing a lot of time and tooling into solving the wrong problem (and is what I assume these systems are effectively doing under-the-hood-anyway).

Don’t Tell Your Data Team’s ROI Story

The truth is that if you’re trying to quantify your impact by yourself, you have already lost. Instead, the best way to tell the ROI story is for other people to tell it.

If your Data team is truly providing value, the leaders of other functions should be lining up to sing your song. Limitations or reductions in Data team headcount should elicit howls from functional stakeholders; the VP Marketing and Head of Ops should be the ones fighting for more Data resources.

If your partners aren’t willing to go to bat for you like this, then it’s time to take a step back to rethink how you’re operating. Are other teams actually benefiting from your work, or are you detached from business outcomes? Is your team in the trenches with other functions, or only providing input from afar?

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Jitendra Subramanyam
VP, Team Manager I
2 years at Gartner
16 years IT Industry

Jitendra Subramanyam leads a research team that is focused on how Chief Data Officers manage the Data and Analytics function in their organizations. Jitendra teaches a course on machine learning at Harvard Extension School. The course is a practical introduction meant to help business executives understand key concepts and techniques in data science and immediately apply them to business problems.Read Full Bio

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