Big data, 8-bit style

His job was related to big data and data extrapolation. The first two first words simply meant he worked with computers, while the second pair was a bit of clever marketing speak to indicate that he worked with forecasting whilst at the same time clearly not saying he worked with forecasting. Which, in short, meant he got invited to a lot of forecasting events, where everyone talked about different ways of predicting the future, possibly using computers in some way. For those not savvy to the distinction between extrapolation and forecasting, he was indistinguishable from those busy attempting to predict the future

The reason for insisting that he was not, in fact, in the prediction business was that his big data did not work. Trends that had looked the same for decades suddenly changed, while temporary movements became permanent fixtures of the data landscape. This was true only so long you did not apply this analytical heuristic, however; it almost seemed as if looking at the data changed it by means of some unclear causation. Given the data, it made no sense whatsoever, yet there it was. And it was his job to find something useful to do with this tangled mess of all the things. Somehow

Rather than digging in and galaxy braining the data, he had opted for another method of dealing with the pervasive random fluctuations. Whenever he needed to perform some public function relating to his job, he consulted the I Ching. Not because it worked (although it had a better success rate than most of the algorithms in use), but because it too was something depicted as a predictive tool when it explicitly and specifically was not

In his heart of heart, he suspected many of his conference peers and network buddies performed similar extracurricular activities, but that admitting this would demolish the prediction business as we know it

This was the only prediction he made with a statistically significant degree of certainty

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