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The frog, the scorpion and Goldman Sachs

Even Russia wants nothing to do with these guys!

The frog, the scorpion and Goldman Sachs

Americans are quite familiar with customer data mining by large corporations even if they are unaware of the network science behind it. No sooner do clerks scan bar codes at the check-out counter, then e-coupons turn up in our in boxes with just the right timing to get us thinking, “yeah, good idea; let’s buy some ink cartridges while they’re on sale today.” My favorite is Google which posts relevant ads on Gmail before you’re done typing the key words; although they often miss the mark like when you’re writing about the shoe bomber and they offer you a deal on Italian loafers.

These techniques are the benign side of data mining. They are, at worst, mildly annoying and, at best, extremely helpful, allowing us to save money when we were in the market for the suggested goods anyway. This is what economists call value added, that is, taking some raw material, in this case data, and processing it to improve the finished product or lower costs.


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