Big data often yields small returns. Here’s how to fix that

Mining” is a popular shorthand expression for how we uncover important insights buried in big data. So when I read recently that a record 1,040 students signed up for Stanford University’s CS229 Machine Learning course by the first day of class, I thought of the 19th-century Gold Rush to the same part of the country.

Consider the parallels beyond geography: Something valuable and hidden is suddenly found, and appears to be everywhere. Early adopters use simple methods to get rich. As word spreads, people with scant knowledge make huge personal investments as the reward seems so attainable. The 1840s equivalent of CS229 was San Francisco, which grew 78 times larger in five years.

Author: Michael J. Pencina


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