On a Beach Walk: No. 18

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I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I recall my first exposure to statistics in college. To me, interesting stuff – but something that takes time to comprehend its usefulness. In those days (1974-75) classes emphasized was on calculations using complex formulas by hand in a world without calculators. One of pencil, paper, a slide rule, and the occasional abacus.

The professor made one particular statement that stuck with me (so I paraphrase) – “In the not-too-distant future, computers will do all the calculations and statistics classes will concentrate on their meaning.”

I believe those Texas Instrument calculators arrived in the late 70s-early 80s. I recall having high school students who were enthusiastically proud of having one of those calculators. I would channel my statistics professor by encouraging those students to keep their cherished calculators forever so they could show their kids an example of archaic.

As I look across the water, I see today’s world as a vast sea of data and statistics. So many numbers that are ripe for picking. As a colleague used to say in our discussions, “Take a stance – any stance – and then go get the numbers to support it because they are available.”

But today’s world is going beyond even that statement. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a data-driven tool designed to scrutinize and apply large amounts of data in order to establish trends that will lead to faster and better decisions.

AI gets the most out of data. Today we marvel at Alexia’s existence, but that is a simpler application than what AI is doing in health care, manufacturing, research, and throughout business.

Dr. Fyffe was the statistic professor who made that statement. I don’t know if he envisioned the coming of AI that day, but that’s where we’ve come and where society is going. Oh what will we see in our daily lives just 10 years from today?

Although I remain an optimist for a positive future, one can find many reasons to have a negative view of tomorrow. Time will deliver the answer – it always does because it always has – but for this place in time – today – walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Note: The video owner has blocked playing the video here, so a 2-step process is required. Click the video below as normal, then click “Watch this video on YouTube” which will open in a new tab or window.

31 thoughts on “On a Beach Walk: No. 18

  1. I was listening to NPR on the way home yesterday and there was a fascinating discussion about the Facebook algorithm and the fact that Zukerberg had a deep belief that if humans could relate together the world would be a better place. Meanwhile, the algorithm continues to invade privacy like a big brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Keep on walking and musing Frank! I was recently listening to someone musing about the amount of information that is being lost due to the changes in technology. He referenced tapes, cassettes, CD Roms, etc and the fact that there are few machines now available to play those any more and soon there may be none. What happens to all that information? What happens to all the information in the ‘cloud’ when technology fails? Hard copies are apparently often a thing of the past – archaeologists of the future are going to have a rough time of it. Interesting thoughts huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline,
      Thanks for coming along on this walk and glad you enjoyed what was rolling around in my head on that day. Technology indeed changes quickly, and who knows how much outdated stuff people have in storage that will eventually get trashed (if it already hasn’t). Fortunately, I imagine archivers probably have access to these.


  3. Pingback: On a Beach Walk: No. 18 — A Frank Angle – BisweswarSen

    • Cindy,
      Interesting. Hope your husband reads the post because I would like his opinion – although I know there is nothing earth-shattering here.

      In terms of the video, two clicks are required … click the video as normal, then click the “Watch on YouTube” link on the video. It will then open in a new tab or window. Thanks for letting me know.


  4. Technology is wonderful, but those who stand behind the curtain . . what of them? As with any advancement, we have to be mindful of HOW it is used. FB is definitely a reminder of this, but far from the first or last one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A really great post! Especially for me who’s still ticked off because calculators weren’t available for me to: (1) ace my high school SAT math, and (2) help me get an A instead of a B in the Probability and Statistics Course I had to take in my senior year in college because the music school messed up and didn’t require the music education majors to take enough math/science electives in their sophomore/junior years. By they way, I plan to let my friend who works in P&G’s “Statistics Discipline Department” know about your post today.


    • Tim,
      Glad this walk stuck a meaningful chord with you. Those statistical calculators were a huge improvement from the calculating by hand and a slide rule days! Although there is nothing earth-scattering in this post, I look forward to the thoughts from your friend.


  6. Hello there Frank, please accept my apologies for not being around lately, besides the usual migraines, there have been a few falls that have messed me up, nothing broken, but very sore. I will attempt my best to catch up on the blogs posts of yours that I have missed.
    I’m glad there are some people, including yourself that are optimistic about the future. To be honest, I don’t know where I fit in, the news, the fake news has become so overwhelming that I have actually stopped watching it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Since we can use stats to support anything we want, we’d better be on the side of the angels. But how can we tell? Living responsibly in a democracy takes constant study, re-adjustment, and vigilance. Tiring, but it beats the alternative.


  8. The notification for this post got buried in my in-box. Who would have envisioned that decades ago? I appreciate the new technology–computers and the Internet have certainly made my research and writing easier to do. But of course there are downsides, too. I was watching a TV show (a drama) where the judge was planning to use some software to determine sentencing. It’s supposed to make it more objective, but the man’s attorney was arguing that it didn’t factor in so many aspects of his life.

    My husband taught high school statistics and AP statistics for many years. 🙂


  9. I love Pink Floyd and “Time” is one of my favorites. Great choice! We have a granddaughter graduating from ASU in a month with a degree program that umbrella’s working with AI in its many forms. I can’t say more because to be honest, I don’t understand it! But when we do talk to her and ask questions I’m aware that what she’s working with wasn’t even imagined when I was her age. In my career I analyzed academic statistics and learned to appreciate what they could tell you. I also saw firsthand how statistics could be manipulated and not necessarily be a true picture. Just watching how FB has dealt with “numbers” and algorithms has proven to me that we are in trouble. I’m not very optimistic about that. Walking on the beach helps the emotions, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      Thanks for sharing many pertinent thoughts about this walk. I’m with you about AI and algorithms in not being sure how much I understand – nonetheless – simply amazing.

      Regarding FB – interesting how their world is suddenly crumbling. Time will tell.

      Meanwhile, as I watch the news, it seems I ‘m not going to receive an invitation to the upcoming Royal wedding.


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