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The Data Scientist as The Bus Driver

Let’s please stop saying somebody isn’t a data scientist if they haven’t memorized the innards of one obscure machine learning algorithm, or blow the right smoke during an interoo (“Kangaroo interview”, thanks Jim Ruppert for this term!). Let us, instead, think of the data scientist as the bus driver.

  • It would be ridiculous and insulting to say a bus driver is not really a driver if they were not also an expert mechanic versed in the repair of engines and synthesis of engine parts. However, bus drivers do build things.
  • It would be silly to say a bus driver is not really a driver if they didn’t architect the transit system. And, drivers often have valuable architectural advice.
  • We don’t say bus drivers are not drivers because they are not social workers. Bus drivers routinely save lives and rescue lost children.

Honestly, bus drivers are presumably people good at driving the bus who have a number of additional talents, values, and significances.

Let’s just say a data scientist is a person capable of running a portion of the data science process, and a person that sometimes knows a few more things.

Categories: Opinion

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Data Scientist and trainer at Win Vector LLC. One of the authors of Practical Data Science with R.

2 replies

  1. Analyzing data requires many sophisticated skills. But the basis is simple: a taste for hard work and constant learning.