Viacom executive Kodi Foster says that predictive models don’t work if the data they use is meaningless

 

TRANSCRIPT:

If you’re in marketing, if you’re in content creation, if you’re in advertising, that’s your job. Understanding human beings is not your job. Understanding the biases of these technologies is your job. Just accept that and move on. This is all the data that we create every day. This is not a Kodi source. This is an IBM source. That’s a ton of data.

If you are in the business of creating any sort of predictive algorithm or machine learning, then what you have to understand is the majority of that is shit.

[laughter]

As we say in the data science community, “You put shit in. You get shit out.” Think about that when you’re trying to understand how you’re making a prediction on anything and whether or not that prediction is actually accurate because if it’s shit going in, then really what are you predicting?

If you’re trying to understand people, whether it’s audiences because you want to entertain them or whether it’s your customers because you want to be able to better fit needs, how can you understand what to do with them from a data standpoint if the data isn’t real or accurate? How can you have an accurate reflection on how to market and how to reach them?

The issue is that we still keep believing the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world that this data that they’re doing is really trying to connect people, when actually they’re really full of shit.

Only recently have we started to understand what happens when human civilizations’ connective tissue on reality starts to get more and more fragmented. How do you create a predictive algorithm for anything when there’s hundreds, tens of thousands, of different versions of reality? Whose reality are you predicting against?

Most of us have just been keeping calm and just playing the game. We keep going along and just saying, “Oh, yes. I’m going to figure out a theory of everything on how to reach millennials.

“I’m going to have this theory of everything on how to engage with Gen Z” when all the data that you’re pulling in from these social platforms, from these apps, are probably really not the best proxies to understand people. Then ultimately, how are you going to entertain them in a way that would be meaningful and authentic if you’re essentially using lies to connect with them?

Filmed at PSFK’s CXI 2018 conference: psfk.com

Viacom:  Viacom.com