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The First Data Scientist: Forgotten Lessons From Ancient Greece On Winning With Data


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Thales, a little known Greek philosopher became the world's first data scientist by correctly making agricultural forecasts using data on natural phenomena.

Thales' radical thinking make him a fabulously wealthy and began our path to the brave new world of Big Data.

Find out how the principles uncovered by Thales in ancient Greece can shape how we think about data, technology and business today.

Published in: Technology, Business
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The First Data Scientist: Forgotten Lessons From Ancient Greece On Winning With Data

  1. 1. The First Data Scientist forgotten lessons from ancient greece about winning with data
  2. 2. Data Ignorance: When markets or organizations fail to collect, study and apply data.
  3. 3. Thalesian Opportunity: Competitive advantage gained from the data ignorance of a market or competitor.
  4. 4. Anatomy of Thalesian Opprotunity
  5. 5. Find a Heuristic to Challenge: If there is something that everyone assumes cannot or does not need to be measured…go measure it.
  6. 6. Mine Your Data: Once you gather enough data go study it carefully.
  7. 7. Deploy a Strategy: Identify a way to monetize the insight you gained using an indirect approach.
  8. 8. Who is Thales and why does he matter to the modern world?
  9. 9. Thales of Miletus - First western philosopher - First data scientist - First oil tycoon
  10. 10. Miletus (far from America)
  11. 11. Time and Progress 0
  12. 12. In Thales’ day, everyone thought everything was the will of the arbitrary and capricious gods.
  13. 13. “You know what this calls for? This calls for more #thunderbolt.” - @BronzedOlympianGod “Cause & effect. Ha! More like cause & #thunderbolt” @BronzedOlympianGod “Last mortal to RT this gets a free #thunderbolt” @BronzedOlympianGod
  14. 14. Think Status Quo.
  15. 15. “Wht if everything ISN’T caused by #thunderbolts #randomthought” @Philosobro “Rain = more olives. 4 reals #revelation #science” - @Philosobro “btw #science = stuff caused by something not #thunderbolts” @Philosobro
  16. 16. Think Different.
  17. 17. In 624 b.c., everyone was in the oil business
  18. 18. Olive oil was used for everything Lamp light Money! Delicious foods
  19. 19. For several years, Thales collected data on weather, animal behavior, celestrial bodies et.
  20. 20. One year, he studies his data and decides to make a forecast.
  21. 21. “I’ve got scrolls full of data and I’m thinking big year for olive crops #bigdata” - @Philosobro
  22. 22. Thales’ contemporaries were deeply skeptical of his fancy learning.
  23. 23. “Every1 knows only random #thunderbolts from gods make plants grow. #lunatic ” - @WaitAPeasent “@philosobro less #thinking and more #thoughtlesstoil” @JavelinJunkie “Any bros want to get naked, cover yourself in oil and wrestle me this weekend? @Philosobro @JavelinJunkie” - @GreeklySpeaking
  24. 24. A quick note.
  25. 25. Thales’ recorded his observations about nature in his scrolls and thereby created the first database.
  26. 26. Thales recorded data on everything from weather to solar activity. His analysis of this data is the first data mining effort.
  27. 27. While oracles had been making predictions for hundreds of years, Thales’s made the first data based, scientific forecast.
  28. 28. The Prehistoric Olive Oil Supply Chain Farm Olive Press Storage
  29. 29. If you were Thales and knew the olive crop would be large, what would you have done do to capitalize?
  30. 30. Thales Rents All the Olive Presses in Miletus
  31. 31. At harvest, everyone in the region had to pay Thales to use the olive presses.
  32. 32. He became massively wealthy.
  33. 33. “Getting rich is soooo easy when you have data. #Thunderbolts are crap.” @Philosobro “Swimming in my vault of gold coins #ScroogeMcDuck style.” - @Philosobro
  34. 34. Thalesian opportunities are everywhere.
  35. 35. Hidden in mounds of ignored data… 10010100110101001010111001010100011 10010100110101001010111001010100011 100101001101010INSIGHT1011100101010 10010100110101001010111001010100011 10010100110101001010111001010100011
  36. 36. Or in mundane activities no one measures… I S I G N H T
  37. 37. Are opportunities in every field for anyone curious enough…
  38. 38. To question. To measure. To explore.
  39. 39. Think about this:
  40. 40. Camera Speaker GPS Gyroscope Accelerometer Clock
  41. 41. That’s 6 sensors, capable of recording millions of bytes of information every second.
  42. 42. But more important.
  43. 43. High Speed Internet Connection
  44. 44. All that data is sent over the internet and kept in a place like…
  45. 45. It’s a data party and everyone is invited!
  46. 46. To clarify…
  47. 47. Amount of data Thales could access
  48. 48. Amount of data you can access! (Probably not to scale) Yikes!
  49. 49. All this data…more data generated this year alone than the whole of human history combined.
  50. 50. Thales found a fortune in just a few scrolls of handwritten data.
  51. 51. We have Excel, cloud computing, open source data mining programs, public data and API access.
  52. 52. What can you discover?
  53. 53. Remember these lessons…
  54. 54. Be curious where others are disinterested
  55. 55. Be innovative where others are stagnate
  56. 56. Be thorough where others summarize
  57. 57. And always remember…
  58. 58. Data is King More interesting things at