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Pick a number between 1 and 100. Got one? Good. Congratulations. Chances are that by plucking that number out of the ether you have done a better job than Google of predicting the percentage increase in the number of flu-like illnesses that will strike Americans over the next few weeks. That’s right. You, armed only with your puny brain, can outdo a multi-billion dollar corporation that employs some of the smartest people in the world. In a run of 108 weeks, Google’s big data project on the flu wrongly predicted the number of flu cases 100 times, revealed a recent study.

Source: BBC News

Date: April 6th, 2015

Link to see the article: http://m.bbc.com/news/business-27683581

Discussion

1) Part of the problem with Google’s big data project on the flu is that Google regularly tweaks the algorithms it uses to index online life and, as a result, may be sampling very different things month to month. Why does Google change its algorithms continuously, rather than just keeping them the same?

2) More and more people are getting less and less happy about simply surrendering information and getting nothing in return, says the article. Increasingly, consumers and customers will attempt to hold back their data, limit what they share online or simply give the wrong answers when they sign up for a service or are quizzed about their life and habits. Have you given incorrect or misleading data deliberately? Consider why this was, and what implications it might have for you. If you have not done this, why were you so comfortable giving away this information?

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