Chapter 2. Data and Social Good

Hearts of Gold

Several years ago, large management consulting firms began describing data as the “new oil”—a magically renewable and seemingly inexhaustible source of fuel for spectacular economic growth. The business media rapidly picked up on the idea, and reported breathlessly about the potential for data to generate untold riches for those wise enough to harness its awesome power.

At the same time, another story was unfolding. That story wasn’t about a few smart guys getting rich. It was about people using data to improve lives and make the world a better place.

For many of us, it’s an alluring narrative, perhaps because it supports our hope that deep down, data scientists and statisticians are nice people who value social good over ...

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