Friday, October 21, 2016

History, Religion and Analytics

For a person to be a good analyst, he needs to know his data well, the data created by history. Knowing the times the data was created helps to get the setting right. History repeats itself is an old saying. Those who do not know history take the same paths and make us believe in the saying. But there is scope for improvement for those who can analyse and take better decisions. Modern day Machine Learning programs do learn from history. With time they fine tune themselves. Since their capacity to read, memorize and synthesize data is higher than human beings they will evolve at a faster pace than human evolution. As long as we (humans) remain masters of master algorithm they would serve us well. But in essence the more granular data we get from history better are our chances to improve though we outsource the learning job to machines. Without proper study of history our understanding of empirical models will be flawed. It isn't just data analytical skills but the way we study history is critical for our success.


Stalin had said it is not the voters but those who count the votes matter. In the digital world, those who control the data have the highest power. In other words any influence on the creation of data has the power to change the direction or the trend. To influence or to control the change has been attempted in the ancient time too and it was by religions. If we look at our actions in daily lives, the way we talk, eat, dress or shop they are influenced by the culture and the social setting we live in. Religions tried to create a framework around this social setting to control the change in patterns. That framework did know that the society transforms and they associated a God to each transformation. They correlated the creation of new things with mythological God Brihma, sustainability with Vishnu and obsoleting the irrelevant as the works of Shiva. Brihma was aided by Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge in creation of new things. Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth helped Vishnu to keep things going. Parvati, the evil destroyer Goddess helped Shiva to help the world move on with the transformation. All these mythological gods were creation of those who played as analysts during the times unknown to influence and control the system of evolution. Man has evolved from generation to generation, from stone-age to modern age. He used different materials and developed new tools with every passing generation to ease his work. Modern day analysts and data scientists have new tools at their disposal, like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning but they are attempting the same job what our ancestors did to understand the system of evolution in order to influence it. The new tools will help deepen our understanding and fare better than our forefathers. But that does not undermine the work done in the past as that was the precursor itself.


When I read articles on web about how Maths is more important than History, I do wonder if it is really so. When people argue that religions have lost the relevance, I ask myself have not they made the first attempt to create a theoretical framework for social evolution. When someone says the world is changing, I say to myself, it is just the tools.