Sunday, February 14, 2010

Forum Question: Quantifying Humanity

In January, 2006 the cover story of BusinessWeek was about numbers. According to the article, "the world is moving into a new age of numbers," where the “mathematical modeling of humanity promises to be one of the great undertakings of the 21st century.”

This article is another sign of the need for a more quantitatively-literate society. As more of us live, work, and play online, the more our digital profiles are open to analysis and susceptible to exploitation. People have been using mathematics to extract hidden patterns from data for centuries. However the increased volume of data in modern times has elevated the knowledge of math and computer technology to a 21st century life skill. In order to be smart consumers and informed citizens we need the ability to sort through data to identify patterns and establish relationships. Giving over that authority to the software behind our computers does not relieve us from the responsibility to be critical thinkers. Companies like Google and Yahoo are charting these oceans of data navigated by quants and math geeks who are becoming the new elite of the global economy. In the information age of the 21st century the best job in the world is that of data miner.

This week's Forum Question is to read, or listen to (a podcast is available) the BusinessWeek cover story. Of particular interest to you will be the last page which contains the overviews, "How Much Math Do We Need to Know?" and “How Math Transforms Industries”. Write a short summary of the article and then share your “take-aways” from the story.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bru,
    So are we going to do anything with Excel? (referenced in the "How Much Math Do We Need to Know?")