Monday, December 31, 2012

Engineering and a World of Predictions

From English anthropologist Gregory Bateson - -

"Information is a difference that makes a difference."

Many engineers will be doing work in the growing fields of developing decision support systems and predictive algorithms.  Engineering has become a model producing profession in an era of Big Data.  Engineers are currently generating clever algorithms that predict behavior of all kinds - - shopping, dating, and voting, for example.  Predicting the performance (probably at some point in real time) of the bridge you drive across or the pump at the water treatment plant is just around the corner.

This is a key point for the engineering community - - models do not just predict, they can make things happen.  Engineering will move deeper into what is called the behavioral loop.  An engineer or manager feeds in data, which is collected by an algorithm that then presents the user with choices, thus steering behavior.

We need to be thinking deeper about the differences and the behavorial loops that our models and decision support systems produce.

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