Data Science Goes Mainstream With White House Appointment

 

Last week, President Obama appointed the nation’s first chief data scientist, Dr. DJ Patil.

Dr. Patil was instrumental in developing the field and famously called data science “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” In fact, Patil is credited with creating the term “data scientist” in the first place.

The word everyone is focused on these days. Photo credit: justgrimes
The word everyone is focused on these days. Photo credit: justgrimes

Highlighted below are some resources to catch you up on the career of the nation’s first Chief Data Scientist and why data science is gaining so much attention with businesses and governments worldwide.

And don’t forget, if you have a strong data science background, BeenVerified is looking for a data scientist of our own. Check out the details of the position on our careers page if you’re interested.

Here’s a summary of the key announcements and background behind the naming of DJ Patil as Chief Data Scientist and what he will focus on while holding the office.

The White House Names Dr. DJ Patil as the First U.S. Chief Data Scientist

A Memo to the American People from U.S. Chief Data Scientist Dr. DJ Patil

Fast Company profile on the rise of DJ Patil from 2012.

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Five Great Reasons to Avoid Answering That Call

 

We all receive phone calls from unusual numbers, sometimes multiple times per day. Often they come from telltale 800 or 888 numbers, but there are also myriad out of town area codes. Is it your old college buddy Bill from Charlotte who just got a new phone or a robotic voice offering you a discount on mattresses?

Think twice before answering that call from an unknown number. Photo credit: Garry Knight
Think twice before answering that call from an unknown number. Photo credit: Garry Knight

It often feels like more of a hassle these days to answer your phone than it is letting it go to voicemail or risking missing an important call. Yet the temptation to answer can be strong, especially if you’re in a situation, business or otherwise where you could be expecting a call from a number you don’t recognize.

Here are five types of calls where it pays to know where the number is calling from and whom it belongs to before you pick up.

The ex with the new number

You’ve done your best to block contact with your unstable ex, filtered his emails and blocked his number (or changed his name in your address book to DO NOT ANSWER). But exes can be persistent and if they sniff out that they’re being ignored, calling from an unknown number to get you to answer is often an effective tactic.

The debt collector looking for your number’s previous owner

“Hi, is this Maya?” These types of calls often come in spurts and are extremely annoying to field, usually the result of the person who last had your number not keeping up with their bills.

The irrelevant sales call

Bad news: the used car dealership sold your information to a hundred other vendors and now they’re all calling you to offer everything from driveway repairs to gutter cleanings. In addition to being annoying, they’re irrelevant because you live in an apartment building.

The time consuming survey

Surveys can often be sales calls in disguise. In any case you probably have better things to do than answer a bunch of random questions for a total stranger over the phone.

The scam artist

Most worryingly of all, unknown incoming calls can also be from scammers trying to talk their way into your wallet. A recent scam affecting the Pittsburgh area involved con artists impersonating IRS agents trying to collect on phony back taxes.

As you can see, there are a number of reasons to avoid answering your phone right away these days. Take precautions to know who is calling you before you jump on the phone with them and save yourself a potential headache.

What’s the one phone call you wish you didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments.

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“Coffee Meets Bagel” Meets Big Money

You might remember the three impressive sisters from a recent episode of Shark Tank who turned down what seemed like an amazing $30 million offer from Mark Cuban for their dating platform Coffee Meets Bagel. I must admit, I thought they were over-confident (OK, crazy!) to turn down such a deal, but today comes news that their independent vision has been at least partly validated by raising $7.8 million in a fresh round of funding.

Everyone likes coffee and bagels, right? Photo credit: John Watson
Everyone likes coffee and bagels, right? Photo credit: John Watson

At the time the sisters rejected Cuban’s offer, one retorted that they see their business growing “as big as Match.com.” In fact, the sisters have already raised nearly $3 million from Match.com’s founder who clearly sees the promise in the approach.

Whether that’s possible is still an open question, considering that Coffee Meets Bagel’s online dating system is more than just a twist on current online dating models; it looks to totally modify online daters’ behaviors by limiting matches to just one per day.

How does Coffee Meet Bagel work in detail?

The site is betting big on its ability to make quality matches based on use of your own social network. Like we wrote of SparkStarter before it, Coffee Meets Bagel uses your social network as a means of validating matches, giving users tired of Tinder and OKCupid’s less filtered approach of allowing any user to contact any other user.

Here’s the kicker: Coffee Meets Bagel sends one match per 24 hour period and only allows contact between the two users if both signal mutual interest. Obviously, it’s a much more considered, and some would say, limiting, approach to online dating. The concept is designed to mimic a “flash sale” which has become popular with indie e-commerce shops.

While Coffee Meets Bagel’s early success looks promising for its future, it’s hard to see it becoming truly mainstream service except for those that burn out of the most popular dating sites. Tinder’s wild popularity is driven as much by its game-like properties than its ability to find a truly compatible match.

And as we’ve argued before, the perceived validation of a potential match coming from your social network is only that: a perception.

Until then we can only speculate if the sisters would have been better off with Mark’s millions.

You can read more about Coffee Meets Bagel and watch their original Shark Tank segment over at Entrepreneur.

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SparkStarter Allows Your Married Friends to Set You Up

 

It seems like every day there is a new online dating app coming to market. Part of this has to do with the fact that so many people are now dating online these days. As the numbers grow, so does the demand for different methods to match up with unknown singles in your area.

SparkStarter relies on your friends to help you find love. Photo credit: Phil Kates
SparkStarter relies on your friends to help you find love. Photo credit: Phil Kates

The latest app to enter the online dating arena is SparkStarter, which utilizes Facebook profiles to help create matches.

Sound like Tinder? Well, not exactly.

While the mechanism of the dating app is similar, with users marking yes or no when a potential match’s Facebook profile photo comes up, what sets it apart is its reliance on a community of non-single people.

Why would a dating app want attached people using it?

No, before you ask, SparkStarter isn’t catering to the swingers market. The app is simply betting that a platform that encourages personal recommendations from people you actually know will be more effective than the current methods of taking a guess based on someone’s photo, location and a few shared interests.

While some sites like OKCupid have taken profile data to the next level, relying on algorithmic matching, most OKC users are likely to have had at least one bad date with a compatibility match of 90% or more. That is, of course, when OKCupid is not experimenting on their users by intentionally matching them with incompatible dates.

So it seems clear that a gap in the matchmaking process of online dating does exist, but how likely is SparkStarter to be successful in filling it?

The app will need to convince enough married and coupled people that it’s worth their time to play matchmaker with their single friends. And this could backfire in the awkward event that a recommended date turns bad. One negative experience is likely to turn a new matchmaker off permanently from such activities.

More importantly, SparkStarter users will need to weigh the trustworthiness endorsements of “friends” on their social networks closely.

While SparkStarter’s approach, like The Grade before it, seeks to elevate the often shallow and ill-considered methods of choosing a date online, in almost all cases your friends won’t have 100% of the information about a person they are recommending for a date.

Follow your common sense and the well-tested best practices for dating unknown people, whether online or off, to ensure your safety.

Read more about SparkStarter on VentureBeat and let us know if you think this idea will work in the comments.

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