What is Big Data? When infused with human understanding it can lead to powerful new insights. On the other hand it can be a “truth machine that you can’t challenge because it’s big data,” cementing and intensifying the toxic assumptions in a company. .
Christian Madsbjerg: We did a really cool thing lately with computer science people and anthropologists, which are not groups that normally hang out so much together. But they found a common interest, which was science, really, but here we looked at fraud. So fraud, credit card fraud, is one of those topics that scares the hell out of every bank executive. And very little fraud is really detected. So what we did was we infiltrated fraud networks in Queens and in Boston to challenge a big bank on whether they really knew that much. And what we did was we lived with the fraudsters for awhile, and we learned how their business works. How they got into it. We understood what the practices are, who they work with, how they get rid of their stuff and so on. We found 50 hypotheses about their behavior that could then be tracked in the big data sets, but that the banks hadn’t even considered. They hadn’t even thought about it. I’ll give you a couple of examples. We found that they would buy Nike sneakers or trainers, but they would buy the same shoe in many different sizes.