Friday, August 14, 2015

Human Expertise Vs Data

In the movie  Moneyball, there is a scene where Billy Beane the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team discusses the problem the team is facing with the scouts of the baseball team. It is a fantastic scene that depicts the problem faced by human experts in todays data driven world.

Another interesting scene is the one where the an economist from Yale, who works as a data scientist for the Oakland Athletics explains the medieval approach taken by most baseball scouts. He also talks about how to look at the problem differently, from a data point of view.

This different points of view creates friction. If you are developing data driven products for any industry, you will face the problem of friction between subject matter experts and data scientists. Unfortunately for human experts, almost all technologies eventually becomes faster, better, cheaper and win in most cases.

Human experts do play an important role in the process of build data driven products and artificial intelligence products. They train the machine to interpret data and take right decisions. Experts play the important role of teaching machines, like a parent teaches a child. No machine in the world, not even IBM Watson, has inherent knowledge. A human has to train it.

Product managers who understand this and product teams that appreciate this reality and work together will build the most successful data products of the future.

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