How Data Science Can Change the World

Audience: Middle and High School students

By: Ivan Peteh


Job popularity is constantly growing and fluctuating. A century ago, the most popular job was a dairy farmer; fast-forward to today, and one of the most popular and available jobs is a software developer. Popular jobs are considered popular due to their practicality and ability to impact the world in a positive way. 100 years ago we lacked the technology required to produce dairy products efficiently, making dairy farming a highly respected and viable profession. In today's society, it may seem to us that a majority of the jobs and professions have been optimized to their limit. However, a new study and career begs to differ. This career is none other than data science, which offers an opportunity for even further advancements and overall improvement


What is data science?


The primary goal of data science is to discover correlations (similarities and connections) in data. It analyzes and draws conclusions from the data using a variety of mathematical techniques. A data scientist must examine the data carefully from data extraction to wrangling and pre-processing (transforming raw data into a more understandable format). Then it's up to the data scientist to make predictions based on the results.


Data scientist analyzes the company's production data in order to optimize further. Photo from Unsplash.


Data science opens up numerous possibilities for optimization—making the best of a certain resource—even in parts of life one normally wouldn’t think data would be relevant. For example, the DSSG, known as Data Science for Social Good, is a group of twenty-four data scientists that meet up every summer at Carnegie Mellon University. These data scientists then split up into groups of three or four, and partner with non-profit organizations in order to combat a specific issue. Some issues that the DSSG has dealt with in the past include improving living conditions for rough sleepers (the homeless) in the UK, increasing the efficiency of biomedical research, predicting success in mother-child interventions, predicting and reducing adverse birth outcomes, and much more.


The issues that these data scientists tackle vary vastly from field to field. This shows us that data science can be applied to nearly any concept—from biomedical research to parenting.


Satellite looking over the coastline and examines the air pollutants. Photo from Unsplash.


Another organization that uses data science as a key component to its research is the state government of California. Despite former President Donald Trump’s resignation from the Paris Agreement—an agreement signed to mitigate climate change—former California Governor Jerry Brown stated that they would be launching “its own damn satellite” to watch over and examine the effects of climate change from afar. The satellite will also collaborate with Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based Earth-imaging firm, to locate sources of climate contaminants and detect leakage and other irregularities. By using a satellite and having access to large chunks of data, data scientists can easily locate where and how the majority of the pollutants are originating, and during what times of the year. They can even take it a step further and come up with solutions that benefit the environment and economy as a whole. After all, the whole idea behind data science is to use the data given and optimize it to its best.


Bibliography:

“Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship - Carnegie Mellon University.” Data Science for Social Good, 15 Dec. 2020, www.dssgfellowship.org/.

Kothari, Prasad. “Data Science Is Changing the World for the Better: Here's How.” InsideBIGDATA, 15 Apr. 2020, insidebigdata.com/2020/04/14/data-science-is-changing-the-world-for-the-better-heres-how/.

Ramrayka, Liza. “How Big Data Can Help Us Fight Climate Change Faster.” World Economic Forum, 19 Oct. 2018, www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/how-big-data-can-help-us-fight-climate-change-faster/.


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