April 21, 2020

Conservatives Against Models - a really bad idea

I work in data and analytics in my daily life.  I've seen the power of models, and while they are not perfect, they are truly powerful tools.  I've also heard on shows like Rush Limbaugh and other conservative pundits (for example on Patriot Radio on SiriusXM),  decrying models.  As a conservative I will state unequivocally, we ignore and discount models at our political peril.

While it is true that statistical models can provide wildly inaccurate results (for example millions of COVID-19 deaths, hurricane paths that make no sense, etc), that is because not the model, but of the assumptions baked into the model by the creator(s) of that model.  Garbage in, garbage out. 

But models have also successfully predicted what vintage of wine and from what region will be a particularly good vintage, or bad.  Models have extremely accurately predicted consumer behaviors to an alarmingly amazing degree.  In the latter case I know personally as I have both used and created models with stunning predictive ability.  Groups like Camebridge Analytica have thrived on the amazing amount of data available in public to predict behaviors.

Models are used for a startling amount of things.  Just because models often lead to incorrect results do not discount them - if a model is set up to predict a specific outcome in a specific way, it will do exactly that.  Garbage in, garbage out.  But to discount and denigrate models as a whole is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Models can predict election outcomes with razor precision if they are built properly. Now it is especially true since machine learning can lead models to self-improve over time. If we turn conservatives against models holistically, we are dooming ourselves to being out-campaigned by Democrats who understand the power of smart-campaigning leveraging model-driven insights.

This is no I'm-trying-to-keep-my-job warning.  Models are the future of everything; from airline safety to stock price predictions, to pandemics, to human health and genetics, o music popularity to farming and beyond.  I work in the industry and see how over time, people are learning to better set models up for success and the models are teaching themselves to get better over time.  That is not to suggest that they will replace humans, but that they can be leveraged as truly useful tools, if they are properly trained (and yes training models is a real thing).

Here's an example of Artificial Intelligence, leveraging modeling of behavior, learning to play hide and seek, and then, even to break the rules:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This