The Importance of the Human Touch in Interpreting Data

We’re enamored with Google’s driverless car, Amazon delivery drones and algorithms that predict what TV shows we’ll want to watch before they are even written.

Whether you call it Big Data, algorithms, predictive analytics – any or all of the above – there’s one thing that’s still certain. The human touch is still important. The machines can only determine so much – though IBM’s Watson makes an excellent diagnostician. We can’t quite turn over all decision-making to the machines just yet.

Take Crystal, for example. This app uses natural language processing to help you craft emails better targeted to the person you’re sending them to. The results, of course, are hit or miss at this point in time (similar to how Microsoft’s How Old website is often wildly wrong at guessing people’s ages). That’s exactly why the human touch is so important still. One could make the argument that by the time the human touch is not important, Skynet will be in charge and it’ll be game over, humans, anyhow.

This is not to speak poorly of Crystal. In fact, it’s also pretty spot-on at times, some have noted. The point is, the human element in decision-making is still an important aspect of the data-driven process. Netflix, renowned for its algorithms, still uses the human touch as its secret sauce. The data is a big deal, don’t get me wrong – without it, you’re just spitting into the wind. But human experience and gut instinct, paired with rock-solid data? That’s a force to be reckoned with.

Photo by rh2ox via Flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in Data.

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