DJ Patil wants Silicon Valley to work on real problems

I was fortunate enough to attend a Q&A with United States Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil at the Commonwealth Club last week. DJ was keen to stress the challenges facing the US government and the Big Data available to help solve these problems. But noted that the talent and progress we see in technology is not being applied to ‘real’ problems.

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DJ gave examples from Law Enforcement and Health Care amongst as areas that are ripe for disruption by data and technology. He also stressed that much public data is readily available online, both at the local and national level – and he invited the Data Scientists in the audience to start hacking for social solutions!

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Joined the Advisory Board for Imperial’s MSc in Business Analytics

Delighted to have officially joined the Advisory Board for Imperial College‘s MSc in Business Analytics at the Business School. This is the first year the MSc has been running and the progress so far has been phenomenal. The course is heavily subscribed by candidates from around the globe and the current class has a wonderful diversity of students and experience.

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I attended the most recent Board meeting in March and was impressed with the content and ambition of the course. We are working hard to improve the course for the next class and strongly believe the course will be a world leader in delivering data science and business analytics over the years to come. Excited to be a part of this!

Talking Trust with Kellogg’s MBA class

I had the pleasure of video-conferencing into Kellogg‘s MBA class in Social Media at Northwestern University yesterday. Brayden King kindly invited me to talk about how Airbnb thinks about Trust and the challenges facing sharing economies.

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We spoke about the role of Data Science at the company and how it has changed over the years. As the volume of data has grown, we have more often than not moved away from explanatory predictive models to Machine Learning algorithms.

One thing that stood out to me as top of mind for the students in the MBA class was the process of Trust development for first time users. How does a first time guest get accepted by a host on Airbnb? How does a first time host get selected by a guest?

At Airbnb we have a team of highly skilled Data Scientists and Engineers working on matching algorithms designed to help first time guests and hosts. And even more than this, the community are their own best resource. Experienced hosts help new hosts manage their listing and new guests book their first experience.

At the heart of everything data-related we work on at Airbnb is the community and enabling them to make more connections amongst themselves and new users.

Imperial in top 10 for Data Science

A recent survey by eFinancialCareers of their CV database has put Imperial College London at number 8 in the world wide rankings for best places to prepare for a financial career in Data Science. This is hot off the heels of the launch of their new Data Science Institute last year and the new MSc Business Analytics.

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The usual East Coast (CMU, Columbia, NYU) and West Coast (Stanford, Berkeley) are also in the top 10, as well as Cambridge and Oxford from the UK.

Airbnb launches first ever Kaggle competition!

In an exciting new partnership, Airbnb has teamed up with Kaggle to create an online Data Science data challenge. In this challenge we provide historical data on the first country guests book and then ask candidates to predict future first bookings.

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Try the challenge yourself! You have until February 11th 2016 to submit your entries. And if you have any questions you can use the forum and I will respond as soon as possible. Good luck and hope you have fun playing with our data!

Can we measure Trust? Stanford thinks we can…

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Along with a team of Stanford University Sociologists led by Karen Cook and Paolo Parigi, I am conducting a study on behalf of Airbnb to understand the social consequences of sharing goods and services with strangers.

Karen has published multiple books on the formation of Trust in modern societies and more recently on the role of Trust in the online world. Paolo is also interested in social networks and has conducted previous studies of Trust in the sharing economy.

Together we will be surveying Airbnb members to better understand Trust inside and outside of the sharing economy, as well as what drives changes in Trust. Stay tuned for more!