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How Noisy Data Can Help You

by Aaron Pace 2 months ago in humanity / how to / advice
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The superpower of increasing adaptability and flexibility

How Noisy Data Can Help You
Photo by WrongTog on Unsplash

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) seem to be all the rage right now. Don’t worry, this isn’t a particularly nerdy article about AI and ML in our lives.

In a recent experiment, a group of researchers hacked the systems of a self-driving car so they could see what it was thinking as it approached a stop sign. The vehicle identified the stop sign and took appropriate action. The same researchers then put some well-placed decals above the S and below the O. Those decals were enough to cause the vehicle to mistakenly identify the sign as a speed limit sign that read 45 mph. The car blew through the stop sign without even slowing down.

You can feed a hundred million cat pictures into a computer and it’ll “learn” to recognize a cat. . .until you put a party hat on one.

Literally billions of dollars are spent every year. Huge companies have adopted “virtual assistants” on their websites to deal with myriad customer inquiries. Chances are, you’ve had a chance to interact with one of these. You’ve also likely been frustrated by how incredibly stupid it really is.

As intelligent humans try to make stupid AI smarter, they use a process called “noise injections” to cause algorithms to stretch and strain in order to improve how they respond to increasingly complex data. The purpose: to help the AI learn how to handle stuff (a technical term) that it’s never been exposed to before.

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When carefully applied, the noise that permeates our lives can serve the same function. To be sure, the balancing act is a difficult one. Too much focus on the noise quickly leads to overwhelm, particularly since there is so much in the noise that has no value. Even worse, there is a lot in the noise that is outright lies that need to be filtered out completely.

While difficult, the process is straightforward:

  • Identify sources you know you can trust. Sometimes this requires comparing the noise from several outlets to know which sources are actually trustworthy.
  • Use those trustworthy sources to create filters. These filters are well-informed opinions and thoughts surrounding the issues of the day.
  • Apply those filters to other sources to cut through the noise. Sometimes, the filters serve to help you completely eliminate certain sources. Other times, they help you identify the stuff (again, a technical term) that serves you.

Like the “noise injection” applied to AI programs, allowing some of the noise into our lives can help us better prepare for the future by making us aware of what’s going on in the world without getting sucked into the sensationalism and drama of traditional and social media.

When we’re prepared, there’s less uncertainty which often means less fear and anxiety.

Earl Nightingale said:

Preparation for life is so important. Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity. Opportunity is all around us.

Present preparation helps identify future opportunity, whatever that looks like for you.

So, go let a little noise in to see what you learn. You might just surprise yourself.

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Thanks for reading!

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About the author

Aaron Pace

Married to my best friend. Father to five exuberant children. Fledgling entrepreneur. Writer. Software developer. Inventory management expert.

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