I like to view the world through different “lenses” to help me understand it. It’s a means to generalize the world and help me consider patterns. Thinking of the world simply as a collection of matter and space is what I call the “physicist lens”, a collection of incentives is the “economist lens”, a collection of energy is the “spiritualist lens”, and so on. Today, I spent some time thinking of the world as a collection of data, which I’ll call the “data scientist lens”.
Through this lens, I saw that human society is doing one big complicated data science project. It can be broken down into many smaller projects, but they’re intertwined as every piece of data can be connected to another through some series of nodes.
The process of a data science experiment roughly goes like this: you collect and store data, you process it (clean, merge, etc.), analyze the data, extract insight, create an action plan based on the insight, execute the action plan, reflect on the process, and repeat the process.
Similarly, in society, we’re constantly going through this cycle. We do this as individuals daily, as groups of people (companies, families, social groups), and as a society at large. Like complex organisms, society becomes efficient by allowing smaller groups within to specialize, in the type of data it deals with and in the phase of the process.
As a Venture Capitalist, our role is in the reflection phase of the process, specific to new data (social data, voice data, health data, etc.) and new processes (cloud storage, distributed ledgers, machine learning, etc.). We reflect on the past and allocate resources that human society has trusted in us to control – through a network of complicated financial institutions.
As individuals, we have the desire to both serve ourselves and serve society at large. As Venture Capitalists, our job is to see what’s working to create value (desired change in data – wealth, health, and happiness) for individuals, both people and business, and for society at large.