Big Data is Harmed by Hype

I came across this ad (https://www.ispot.tv/ad/A6aB/hewlett-packard-enterprise-powerfulanalytics) today. I actually support ‘big data’ and it’s use for making projections. Big data can make forecasts that are good enough for making sound business decisions. Hence, it can be and often is useful.

The ad would have us believe that big data that can deliver forecasts that are so certain that they are ‘facts’ that can believed at full precision. This is false.

Any business problem involves systems that change in time. Even with perfect data, the level of certainty promised by the ad is simply unattainable for such systems. This has been mathematically borne out by practice. There is lots of material available. A nice introduction may be found here: http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-is-chaos-theory/.

To claim certainty is just hype, sets false expectations, and does all of us harm. To quote Albert Einstein: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”