White House to data scientists: We need you

Data is the key to transforming the nation, U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil said

It's been nearly two years since President Obama created the U.S. chief data scientist role, and the man currently in the job had an urgent message Thursday for attendees at Strata+Hadoop World: We need you.

"We are at the first step in making data work for every American," said DJ Patil in a keynote speech at the show. "It's only going to make a difference when people like you step up and show that it's not just feasible but scalable."

As chief data scientist in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Patil's mission is to "responsibly unleash the power of data to benefit all Americans," he said, with an emphasis on the word "responsibly" and the focus on inclusion.

Challenges he's focused on during his tenure so far have included the opioid epidemic, highway safety, precision medicine, empowering underserved segments of the population, and education.

"We firmly believe that every student has to have the opportunity to understand computers and to learn how to code," Patil said. "It's one of the basic tenets of living in our new economy."

Patil also stressed the need for caution when working with big data, including ethical issues such as algorithmic transparency. A technology is neither radical nor revolutionary unless it benefits everyone, Patil said, citing as an example the need to overhaul the U.S. criminal justice system.

Lynn Overmann, senior advisor to the U.S. chief technology officer for criminal justice, joined Patil on stage to describe current efforts to use data for that purpose. Siloed data, manual entry, privacy, integration, legacy systems and a lack of skills were all among the factors Overmann listed as obstacles in that effort.

"You have already solved these problems -- probably 10 years ago," she told audience members. "The opportunity is to use your talent to operationalize solutions to one of the biggest challenges facing our nation. Come help us -- we can solve these problems together."

Patil summed up the White House's message to data scientists with four key points.

First, "the edge cases matter," he said. "They're so easy to dismiss, but every one of them is a person or a group of people. Think carefully about who those cases are and the faces behind them -- you determine whether they have a solution or get nothing."

Second, "every data science training program must include ethics and security," Patil said. "We have entered a period where we have to take ownership for this."

Third, "we need you," he said, "whether you take time out of your career to work on this, or change careers."

Finally, "always focus on the individual," Patil said. "If you do, you'll always be right, and we can really transform this country in an unbelievably awesome way."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?