CDO Survival Guide: High AQ and Hippocratic Oath for Data Science

Photo credit: iStockphoto/gregepperson

Data scientists and all workers operating across digital businesses need to develop their “adaptability quotient” to maximize their potential, and that of the technology they apply and use.

This was the advice from cancer researcher, bio-informatician and science communicator Tané Hunter, who delivered a keynote presentation at the Gartner Data and Analytics Summit in Sydney last week.

In his presentation titled “Adapt to Thrive”, Hunter’s point was that technology is neither good, bad, nor neutral. It had huge potential to be the “rocket fuel” for a better world, if people took the right approach.

Digital mindfulness

There were ethical and political issues around the use of facial recognition technology in China’s social credit system, for example. But in contrast, police in New Delhi had used it to locate thousands of orphans and reunite them with their families, saving many of them from slavery and prostitution.

“It’s not the technology, it’s what it does which matters and that is why it is so important to set our intentions right,” says Hunter.

He advocated the equivalent of a “Hippocratic oath” for data science, so companies could set the ethical and moral parameters of applications.

Where the Hippocratic oath for the medical profession was to “do no harm” and “abstain” from anything mischievous or deleterious, so the world of data science needed an updated version for the 21st century.

“It should be something like: ‘In order to uphold the—(insert value here)—of any entity—I will (insert value here)’,” says Hunter.

“So an example could be: In order to uphold the safety of rideshare passengers I will ensure that all women have a way to request women drivers.”

Adaptability Quotient

Hunter says there were three major pillars to develop individually or collectively, and said that after the established metrics of the Intelligence Quotient and the newer Emotional Quotient, the idea of the Adaptability Quotient was the most important measure of likely success in the digital age.

Identified as “the future of work” by Fast Company magazine, the Harvard Business Review described it as the “new competitive advantage.”

“All of these are rocket fuel to drive better ways of working together because in this next economy we find ourselves in, collaboration trumps genius,” says Hunter.

“If you combine technical expertise, IQ with EQ, you can get to AQ which is another superpower.

“The world is in a constant flux of change, and that is rapidly increasing, and your AQ is your ability to adapt and change in a world which is incredibly uncertain.”

Hunter asked his audience how they responded when challenged by change and disruption.

“When things change the game gets flipped and there are business models which disrupt everything,” he says.

“When everything is inverted are you scared? Do you shut down? Or do you get excited and engaged by that type of change?”

Meditating on your AQ

AQ was also something which could be developed and built up over time, and could be exercised to become more effective.

“This is a muscle which can be flexed and cultivated, and the most important part of it is mindset, and the ability to have several ideas in your head at once.  The world is not going to stop rapidly evolving and a fundamental of intelligence is the ability to adapt.”

Hunter’s message was that technology was the key to human progress, and that after all the discoveries across history we were now “standing on the shoulders of giants” and this was powering the rapid change we are experiencing.

Data flows currently comprise around 15% of global GDP he said, and this would reach 25% by 2025. The world is growing more transistors than it is grains of rice.

“But raw data is a terrible idea,” says Hunter.

“It should be cooked and cared for and understood, and code is the refinery which allows us to distribute it and give it value.”

Digital technology was now a layer which sat over “absolutely everything” in the human world, as over four billion people on the planet now had smartphones and could access the total of human knowledge and use it and adapt it.

“Technology is made by us to help us,” says Hunter.

“Technology is our greatest ability to adapt to change, and that is why it has always been an intimate part of human evolution.”

Photo credit: iStockphoto/gregepperson