The Data Blog
How Synthetic Data Can Save AI
According to VentureBeat, AI is facing several critical challenges. Not only does it need huge amounts of data to deliver accurate results, but it also needs to be able to ensure that data isn’t biased, and it needs to comply with increasingly restrictive data privacy regulations.
We have seen several solutions proposed over the last couple of years to address these challenges, including various tools designed to identify and reduce bias, tools that anonymize user data, and programs to ensure that data is only collected with user consent. But each of these solutions is facing challenges of its own.
Now we’re seeing a new industry emerge that promises to be a saving grace: synthetic data. Synthetic data is artificial computer-generated data that can stand-in for data obtained from the real world. A synthetic dataset must have the same mathematical and statistical properties as the real-world dataset it is replacing but does not explicitly represent real individuals. Think of this as a digital mirror of real-world data that is statistically reflective of that world. This enables training AI systems in a completely virtual realm. And it can be readily customized for a variety of use cases ranging from healthcare to retail, finance, transportation, and agriculture.
Over the last few years, there has been increasing concern about how inherent biases in datasets can unwittingly lead to AI algorithms that perpetuate systemic discrimination. In fact, Gartner predicts that through 2022, 85% of AI projects will deliver erroneous outcomes due to bias in data, algorithms, or the teams responsible for managing them.
One alternative often used to offset privacy concerns is anonymization. Personal data, for example, can be anonymized by masking or eliminating identifying characteristics such as removing names and credit card numbers from ecommerce transactions or removing identifying content from healthcare records. But there is growing evidence that even if data has been anonymized from one source, it can be correlated with consumer datasets exposed from security breaches. In fact, by combining data from multiple sources, it is possible to form a surprisingly clear picture of our identities even if there has been a degree of anonymization. In some instances, this can even be done by correlating data from public sources, without a nefarious security hack.
Synthetic data promises to deliver the advantages of AI without the downsides. Not only does it take our real personal data out of the equation, but a general goal for synthetic data is to perform better than real-world data by correcting bias that is often ingrained in the real world.
It's no secret that technology is always evolving and with Facebook Smart Glasses being recently announced, as well as the already existing Google Glasses technology, the world becomes closer and closer to seeing what we thought was only possible in movies. Glasses that can take pictures could turn into glasses which project holograms in a few years. Virtual reality goggles and helmets, which already exist, can transport people into their own universe; it's only a matter of time until these technologies are combined and a whole new realm of opportunities will exist.
Markets will flood for what will no doubt be lucrative eyewear that can project videos in real time to you and your friends without the need of a computer screen. Perhaps iPhones will become 'Eye Phones' and you'll be able to project and shuffle through phone apps with voice command. Facebook Glasses already utilizes voice command to take pictures and videos, how long until it takes to scroll through your Facebook feed and post statuses, play games, or message friends?
Of course, one concern with any emerging technology these days is privacy concerns; not only will private companies have access to what you're watching or projecting in real time, but so would everyone in a 10-foot radius, right? What happens if sensitive data is displayed for people to see? What happens if projections overlap and the technology starts to malfunction? There are a lot of questions for programmers and business executives to consider if they go this route.
The biggest question to think about is no doubt if this kind of technology will disrupt existing markets? Will smart phones be obsolete in 10 years if you can just wear glasses that do the same thing and more? Will we need television if we can stream whatever show we want for an audience just using our very eyes?
As always, there's a lot to think about with these types of emerging technology. While it's likely years away from hitting the market, those years will pass by sooner than we think, and consumers and businesses alike will have to prepare.
Synthetic data is consistently able to fill the gaps where real-world data can't quite manage to hit the mark. Whether it's for the advancement of artificial intelligence or enhancement of robust simulations, synthetic data has one thing that real-world data never will have; controlled variation.
Synthetic data being created artificially gives a major advantage which allows us to control test conditions and variations within the data. Instead of needing to rely on real-world data to satisfy every single test condition you can think of, synthetic data fills each of those gaps with ease, and allows for not only progression, but automation as well. Soon, artificial intelligence will be able to improve itself by synthesizing its own simulated data and automate its own evolution.
Think of it; if artificial intelligence is able to automate its own testing and training and improve itself until completion, there won't be a need for real-world data anymore. AI would just need to create its own data to adjust itself to, which let's face it, would cover more ground a lot more quickly than any non-synthetic data counterparts.
For example, self-driving cars being able to calculate the quickest route to any given destination on the fly and adjusting accordingly based on upcoming traffic, accidents that may have occurred, or any other predicted trouble on the road would innovate the automobile industry to no end.
This also begs the question, if everyone is using synthetic data for automation, who will do it best? Will AI compete with each other to automate itself best? Only time will tell.
Jefferson Health recently reported their cloud-based database was hacked and data belonging to 1,769 patients treated at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center was compromised as a result. This attack occurred back in April of 2021, but was reported both publicly and to the federal government for the first time Thursday, July 22nd at the end of the 60-day legal window for reporting cyber attacks.
Cyber attacks in general have been on the rise ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, however ransomware attacks and hackings against health facilities in the United States have soared to 153% from the year prior, and these are just those which have been reported.
Additionally, Jefferson Health was not the only healthcare facility breached by the data attack; reports suggest Yale New Haven Health System and many other affiliated Elekta healthcare organizations were breached, with intent seemingly related to stealing data related to Cancer patients.
With cyber attacks on the rise across all industries, especially healthcare, it's easy to tell that nobody is safe from malicious ransomware attacks. Companies worldwide are in constant demand for cybersecurity maintenance but it seems like the supply isn't getting any larger.
Synthetic data generation, however, offers an alternative solution, ensuring the safety of data belonging to clients while keeping the benefits of using real-world data. Now more than ever, synthetic data is imperative and serves as a great defense against hackers and cyberterrorists out to steal customer data.
Learn more at www.exactdata.net/
Cyber Security Market Opportunity
According to Erica Davis, Guy Carpenter, Managing Director and Cyber Center of Excellence Leader for North America, there will be $6T in 2021 global cybercrimes costs with only $6B in 2021 cyber insurance gross written premiums. The Ponemon Institute indicates 60% of cybercrime costs are due to 3rd party breaches. Fully synthetic data generation technologies eliminate the cost and risks of 3rd party breaches. The potential global financial impact is enormous with a potential reduction in cybercrime cost of $3.6T annually. The insurance industry would also be closing a huge risk exposure gap of trillions of dollars through broad adoption of synthetic data generation technologies.
Just recently, McDonalds has suffered from a data breach where the personal data of customers in Taiwon and South Korea was exposed. This comes right after JBS admitted to paying $11 million in ransom to Hackers who broke into their computer system last month.
With more and more companies are being targeted, it's hard to say who will be safe from looming threats.
In data science, model training and fitting via machine learning is one of those subjects that never really has the same answer each time. Every model is different; each has their own data, response, and predictors uniquely akin to them. Yes there is a "right way" and a "wrong way" to train a fit a model, but what is right and wrong is very subjective. If the model works does that mean you trained it right every step of the way? If the model predictions are inconclusive or opposite of your hypothesis did you train it wrong?
The first step in proper model training is always asking yourself what the goal of the model is. What is its purpose? What are you trying to predict? If you can't specifically summarize your aim in a sentence or two you need to reevaluate your goals and the conceptual idealism behind the model. Every model should have a clear purpose that can be easily explained to anyone willing to listen.
"I'm testing to see if the amount of sleep one gets is a reliable predictor to whether or not they will drink coffee the next morning."
Great, right? Wrong. While the above description certainly seems valid, so many questions already arise from that one sentence. Does the person have to usually drink coffee to be counted as valid in the analysis? What do you mean by the 'amount of sleep', do you mean a little, a lot, just enough? When does the morning end? What defines "reliable" in this context?
To be honest, we can nitpick even the greatest models, but at the very least, a great model's problem, objective, solution, and features should be clearly identifiable when summarizing it.
"My model predicts whether or not the average caffeine consumer will drink coffee within four hours of waking up if they got less than 8 hours of sleep the previous night."
After being able to summarize your model and clearly laying out your intent, you'll need the right data to back it up. A few questions to keep in mind; how will you get the data? How do you know the data is accurate? Will you filter out outliers or take a random sample of the amount of observations? What if some of your data is incomplete or missing? Which fields are more important than others; which are predictors, which are responses, and which are unnecessary? Is there multicollinearity or any correlation at all for that matter within your data?
There are many questions that need to be addressed with the data, so many that they can't all be listed here. However, the most important part is that you're able to validate your data and the model that depends on it, so you can move forward with training your model.
We may train their model in a number of ways, one of the most popular being with a linear regression fit aimed to answer a specific question; what is the relationship between our predictors and outcome? While training our data we hope to isolate which of our predictors have a significant impact on our outcome and continue to use them, while taking out those which do not have an impact on our data in the long-run. By analyzing which variables have the most impact on our our response as a whole, we're able to enact the process known as regularization. Regularization is important, as it will determine your model's capabilities on data other than your training set. If your model doesn't work as well on other types of data meant for it, your model may be under or overfit, and you'll have to back up a bit in terms of figuring out your best predictors.
Thinking back to our coffee example, our response variable is obviously whether or not a consumer drank coffee. The most obvious predictor would include amount of sleep the previous night, but should include other predictors as well such as age, sex, weight, and accessibility. We'd then aim to trim any variable deemed not a valid predictor for drinking coffee the next morning. Once we believe we have the best predictors for our model, we'd test it on other datasets and continue training it until we're satisfied.
Learn more at www.exactdata.net/
Data Predictions for 2021
A new year means new predictions for data trends and how they will affect the world of technology! Several trends are expected such as an increase in cloud computing, a large migration of systems to current databases to cloud software, and data privacy and social media data harvesting continuing to be in the spotlight of many.
Thus, to get the jump on others, it may be in your best interest to act quickly to migrate systems or get the next generation for your data needs. Whether it's for testing purposes, storage, or analytics, the future is tomorrow and tomorrow will come faster than you think.
We recommend researching upcoming data driven techniques that fit your need and capabilities and comparing them to your current processes right now. Do the upcoming or freshly introduced technologies look better than what you currently have? If so, you may have to act quickly before competitors jump on board and are the first to invest. So where can you start looking for these up and coming data driven technologies? Well, you've come to the right place.
Learn more at https://www.exactdata.net/
There are many ways synthetic data can be used to help grow, strengthen, and rejuvenate your organization and many processes it handles, but here are five key ways in which synthetic data will be able to directly help you and your company!
1) Synthetic Data has a wide variety of use cases to help you out with. Synthetic Data is artificially generated and thus can be manipulated for production testing and model fitting in a plethora of ways. It can be used for machine learning, mathematical model fitting, model testing, and more!
2) Synthetic Data adds an extra layer of security to your data; because synthetic data is artificially generated, if there is a data leak, hack, or if something ends up going wrong, there will be minimal security risk and harm as the exposed data will not put any individual's private information in danger of being exploited. This factor is huge within the cybersecurity world and adds as an extra precaution just in case there is a breach in the system.
3) Synthetic Data is cost-effective. Synthetic Data is less expensive to generate than it is to buy real data in terms of both time and money. Furthermore, because you may need different types of data for different types of test, you'll need several different types of data to test with; this begs the question, wouldn't it be easier to generate each type on the fly as needed rather than stat testing, realize you need to collect more samples and pause testing until you have collected enough to continue?
4) Synthetic Data is great when it comes to threat detection. Synthetic data can reflect authentic patterns and behaviors for insider threat detection and user behavior in the models it is used to create. Furthermore, it can be used during performance testing to cover a variety of different scenarios which can lead to increased threat detection and strengthen an application or model's defensive capabilities.
5) Synthetic Data strengthens performance more than authentic data can. Synthetic data can be used to test models with quickly and efficiently so that data can be analyzed right after the data is plugged in. Moreover, it can be used to train models in ways models can't be trained when using authentic data; it can be generated to fill in for any missing data or used to predict different types of behavior based on reasonable machine learning, rather than leaving data empty or assuming what 'would' have been answered.
The COVID-19 is one of the most dangerous problems we as a society struggle with today, and to make matters worse the disease is highly contagious and spreading rapidly around the world. As there are many people who are unaware of their health situation and don't find it necessary to get tested, and furthermore aren't enough test kits readily available for every single person, it's essential we use our resources and historical data to track the virus so we can begin to stop it in its tracks.
By preparing travel, social, and contact networks, we may effectively be able to track to a certain degree where the virus is, isn't, and may potentially be. A travel network specifies a single, series, or pattern of travel activities by a node [individual] or group of nodes [group of individuals] by any mode to any location. A social network is defined as a network of known social interactions between family, friends, co-workers, and those you are relatively familiar with. Meanwhile, a contact network tracks the time and proximity one node may have to another at any given time, but isn't specifically limited to others known by the individual; contact networks include interactions with a cashier when buying a coffee or perhaps passing someone nearby on local transportation. By combining the three types of networks, we effectively can understand each node's travel, social, and contact patterns and compare them to COVID-19's own pattern of travel, something we can denote as contact tracing.
Using the data collected from the COVID-19 outbreak as well as by those who have been tested for exposure, we have the opportunity to track the precise whereabouts of the pandemic and fight it before the next wave of it or a future pandemic begins. The first of our two key assumptions for this methodology is we have enough readily available data to use for tracking where COVID-19 has been and currently is so we can also predict where it is likely to go. The second key assumption is that we find a way to track those we don't have data on, as the contact network isn't limited to interactions with known nodes, but unknown ones as well. Nevertheless, this is a rare opportunity we have to begin our fight back against COVID-19 and other future pandemics, and we should take any advantage we can to prepare for it.