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17 January 2018

Big Data, AI Neural Networks, and Us

I remember being incredulous in graduate school, learning that very large N's and data mining were things to be suspicious of. After all, my thinking went, how could more information and an automatic way to recognize connections that one might miss be bad? It turns out that big data sets make it more likely that one will find statistical significance in the absence of a real relationship and that data mining tends to turn up a lot of spurious, atheoretical correlations. Enter the Big Data and AI Neural Networks movements. They present approximately the same issues. Big Data, it turns out, leads to lots of connections with little explanation, and Neural Networks are, by definition, not understandable.

It occurs to me, though, that traditional statistical regression analysis could be combined with Big Data and AI Neural Networks as a corrective. Why not start with a traditional statistical model rooted in theory and previous empirical findings and then have a neutral network mine the error term? We could develop a set of meta-analyses that clearly state our priors. (This part eventually could even be done by bots.) Then, the AI's could do a kind of Bayesian exploration. I'm out of my depth now, though.

16 January 2018

Check Out My Original Music!

New Year, new band! Check out the debut single from my new music project!


Original artwork by Nat Freeman (https://www.instagram.com/badgerandwren/)


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Also available wherever you find music (e.g. Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon, etc.) but it helps me most if you buy through Bandcamp.

15 January 2018

Opting Out of 'Optics'

OK, I promise to stop with these little pet peeves postings soon. Stop using the neologism "optics." Unlike "impact" and "proactive" which are business-speak, "optics" seems to be political-speak. The more appropriate synonym is "perception" or perhaps "impression." It's true that languages are in constant flux, but it behooves us to know the cultural and structural push and pull from whence these changes arrive.

02 January 2018

Veterans, Holidays, and Health

You know those thoughtful friends who remind us every year around the 4th of July and New Year's Eve that many vets are hurt by the fireworks and gunfire around those celebrations? They are good, thoughtful people, and we should thank them. They are also wrong. OK, maybe not "wrong," but I think they unintentionally are missing a chance to address the root cause of the issue. When vets are hurt when we celebrate our national birthday and the beginning of our year, we shouldn't question our celebrations; we should question war. Let's end war. No one should need to suffer PTSD or TBI for my freedom. Freedom may not be free, so we're told, but we should be fully aware of who bears the cost for whom.

31 December 2017

Be Proactive with Your Language by Avoiding 'Proactive'

While I'm at it, stop using the neologism "proactive." (See my previous rant against "impact" here.) The synonyms "active" and "preemptive" are almost always adequate. Like "impact," "proactive" is business-speak and reflects the creeping, hegemonic influence of capitalism. Resist these intrusions.