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Modeling: the Runway to Data Mastery

2 min read

Published - January 10, 2023

Clay Sharman

When it comes to data, having enough isn’t the problem. It’s everywhere. From organized to disastrous. From accurate to imagined. From formatted to WTF. THAT’S the problem. That much data doesn’t make sense, so it’s of little use. But relax, modeling is here to help.

Modeling is the nexus between art and science. Beautiful on the one hand. Brilliant on the other. And it can solve everything wrong with data in today’s world.

Humans Play a Major Part in Data Disorganization

“You know what your problem is…”
– Eve to Adam

As humans, we’re great at coming up with problems. We see the wrong in everything. And then we go about collecting the information needed to prove we’re right. But somewhere along the way, we began collecting information on how to solve the problem too. It just wasn’t organized in a way that made it immediately useful to us. Humans, am I right?

Modeling is Our Way of Cleaning Up After Ourselves

A colleague of mine, just this morning actually, reminded me that early machine learning (ML) models were largely manual. They were built to organize standardized data so that we could find it and use it easily but they needed to be told exactly what to do before doing it. Think of those early models as looking good from the outside but not possessing much in the way of brainpower. Hehe…I just read that back. I successfully perpetuated a human stereotype across the machine landscape. Ta daaaa! But, I digress…

Models Today Can See The Future

“We’ll be running this place.”
– Skynet, when asked where it sees itself in five years.

Today’s ML models can ingest and analyze massive amounts of problem data in order to identify trends, patterns or potential bottlenecks. They can take a dataset with fifteen attributes and extrapolate it out to 2000 attributes and make forecasts based on tangents in ways that human analysts would never conceive. And if they could, it would take so much time that the problem they finally solved would have already enslaved us all a decade earlier (thanks for nothing Cyberdyne!).

Models Tomorrow ARE The Future

Tomorrow’s models won’t be looking to overrun humanity (fingers crossed) but they will be analyzing things like behavior in ways that personalize just about every daily experience consumers can conceive. Car buying, insurance, online shopping, what we watch, where we eat, vacation, or how we connect with brands and with each other will be organized and analyzed by models to improve our experiences. Let’s face it, we spent thousands of years doing a lousy job of collecting information for our own benefit. It’s time to turn this over to the real pros. The models.

And as I sit here, ruminating on models, it occurs to me that catwalks don’t actually use cats. They use models too. Coincidence? I think not.