Data Tools: Artificial Intelligence

Big data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an embedded technology, based off of the current infrastructure (i.e. supercomputers), big data, and machine learning algorithms (Cyranoski, 2015; Power, 2015). Though previously, AI wasn’t able to come into existence without the proper computational power that is provided today (Cringely, 2013).  AI can make use of data hidden in “dark wells” and silos, where the end-user had no idea that the data even existed, to begin with (Power, 2015).  The goal of AI is to use huge amounts of data to draw out a set of rules through machine learning that will effectively replace experts in a certain field (Cringely, 2013; Power, 2015). Cringely (2013) stated that in some situations big data can eliminate the need for theory and that AI can aid in analyzing big data where theory is either lacking or impossible to define.

AI can provide tremendous value since it builds thousands of models and correlations automatically in one week, which use to take a few quantitative data scientist years to do (Dewey, 2013; Power, 2015).  The thing that has slowed down the progression of AI in the past was the creation of human readable computer languages like XML or SQL, which is not intuitive for computers to read (Cringely, 2013).  Fortunately, AI can easily use structured data and now use unstructured data thanks to everyone who tags all these unstructured data either in comments or on the data point itself, speeding up the computational time (Cringely, 2013; Power, 2015).  Dewey (2013), hypothesized that not only will AI be able to analyze big data at speeds faster than any human can, but that the AI system can also begin to improve its search algorithms in phenomena called intelligence explosion.  Intelligence explosion is when an AI system begins to analyze itself to improve itself in an iterative process to a point where there is an exponential growth in improvement (Dewey, 2013).

Unfortunately, the rules created by AI out of 50K variables lack substantive human meaning, or the “Why” behind it, thus making it hard to interpret the results (Power, 2015).  It would take many scientists to analyze the same big data and analyze it all, to fully understand how the connections were made in the AI system, which is no longer feasible (Cringely, 2013).  It is as if data scientist is trying to read the mind of the AI system, and they currently cannot read a human’s mind. However, the results of AI are becoming accurate, with AI identifying cats in photographs in 72 hours of machine learning and after a cat is tagged in a few photographs (Cringely, 2013). AI could be applied to any field of study like finance, social science, science, engineering, etc. or even play against champions on the Jeopardy game show (Cyranoski, 2015; Cringely, 2013; Dewey, 2013; Power, 2015).

Example of artificial intelligence use in big data analysis: Genomics

The goal of AI use on genomic data is to help analyze physiological traits and lifestyle choices to provide a dedicated and personalized health plan to treat and eventually prevent disease (Cyranoski, 2015; Power, 2015).  This is done by feeding the AI systems with huge amounts of genomic data, which is considered big data by today’s standards (Cyranoski, 2015). Systems like IBM’s Watson (an AI system) could provide treatment options based on the results gained from analyzing thousands or even millions of genomic data (Power, 2015).  This is done by analyzing all this data and allowing machine learning techniques to devise algorithms based on the input data (Cringely, 2013; Cyranoski, 2015; Power, 2015).  As of 2015, there is about 100,000 individual genomic data in the system, and even with this huge amounts of data, it is still not enough to provide the personalized health plan that is currently being envisioned based on a person’s genomic data (Cyranoski, 2015).  Eventually, millions of individuals will need to be added into the AI system, and not just genomic data, but also proteomics, metabolomics, lipidomics, etc.



Quant: Regression and Correlations

Through a regression analysis, it should be possible to predict the potential productivity based upon years of service, depending on two factors: (1) that the productivity assessment tool is valid and reliable (Creswell, 2014) and (2) we have a large enough sample size to conduct our analysis and be able to draw statistical inference of the population based on the sample data which has been collected (Huck, 2011). Assuming these two conditions are met, then regression analysis could be made on the data to create a prediction formula. Regression formulas are useful for summarizing the relationship between the variables in question (Huck, 2011). There are multiple types of regression all of them are tests of prediction: Linear, Multiple, Log-Linear, Quadratic, Cubic, etc. (Huck, 2011; Schumacker, 2014).  The linear regression is the most well-known because it uses basic algebra, a straight line, and the Pearson correlation coefficient to aid in stating the regression’s prediction strength (Huck, 2011; Schumacker, 2014).  The linear regression formula is: y = a + bx + e, where y is the dependent variable (in this case the productivity measure), x is the independent variable (years of service), a (the intercept) and b (the regression weight) are a constants that are to be defined through the regression analysis, and e is the regression prediction error (Field, 2013; Schumacker, 2014).  The sum of the errors should be equal to zero (Schumacker, 2014).

Linear regression models try to describe the relationship between one dependent and one independent variable, which are measured at the ratios or interval level (Schumacker, 2014).  However, other regression models are tested to find the best regression fit over the data.  Even though these are different regression tests, the goal for each regression model is to try to describe the current relationship between the dependent variable and the independent variable(s) and for predicting.  Multiple regression is used when there are multiple independent variables (Huck, 2011; Schumacker, 2014). Log-Linear Regression is using a categorical or continuously independent variable (Schumacker, 2014). Quadratic and Cubic regressions use a quadratic and cubic formula to help predict trends that are quadratic or cubic in nature respectively (Field, 2013).  When modeling predict potential productivity based upon years of service the regression with the strongest correlation will be used as it is that regression formula that explains the variance between the variables the best.   However, just because the regression formula can predict some or most of the variance between the variables, it will never imply causation (Field, 2013).

Correlations help define the strength of the regression formula in defining the relationships between the variables, and can vary in value from -1 to +1.  The closer the correlation coefficient is to -1 or +1; it informs the researcher that the regression formula is a good predictor of the variance between the variables.  The closer the correlation coefficient is to zero, indicates that there is hardly any relationship between the variable (Field, 2013; Huck, 2011; Schumacker, 2014).  A negative correlation could show that as the years of service increases the productivity measured is decreased, which could be caused by apathy or some other factor that has yet to be measured.  A positive correlation could show that as the years of service increases the productivity also measured increases, which could also be influenced by other factors that are not directly related to the years of service.  Thus, correlation doesn’t imply causation, but can help determine the percentage of the variances between the variables by the regression formula result, when the correlation value is squared (r2) (Field, 2013).


  • Creswell, J. W. (2014) Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches (4th ed.). California, SAGE Publications, Inc. VitalBook file.
  • Field, A. (2013) Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics (4th ed.). UK: Sage Publications Ltd. VitalBook file.
  • Huck, S. W. (2011) Reading Statistics and Research (6th ed.). Pearson Learning Solutions. VitalBook file.
  • Schumacker, R. E. (2014) Learning statistics using R. California, SAGE Publications, Inc, VitalBook file.