While it is impossible and undesirable to prescribe the research advances that Stanford Data Science will enable, it is useful to survey Stanford’s strengths with an eye toward the potential impact of data.
With this in mind, we have identified five areas in which we expect that SDS will have a substantial impact in its first years.
Understanding and overcoming poverty
The human population continues to grow, and more of us are attaining a reasonable standard of living. Unfortunately, this is not true for all. In the U.S. alone, about 40 million people live in poverty. New kinds of data combined with new data science would help to advance scientific understanding of how to most rapidly achieve sustainable prosperity.
The richness and sophistication of new data sets, combined with the power of machine learning, give hope that we can use these resources to understand the biology behind human diseases and, in parallel, improve diagnosis and treatment.
Learning mechanisms without experiments
The full spectrum of problems and potential solutions in distinguishing causal from non-causal associations from observational data will emerge through interaction with domain experts interested in specific types of interventions and examining new data sets.
Safeguarding individual rights and liberties
Combining expertise in data science and social science will provide us with a unique opportunity to define a new search agenda in digital technologies and help us move toward better media and a more informed society.
Sustainable relation between humans and the environment
There are many new and nascent data sources that can be leveraged in understanding the relationships between humans and the environment, yet harnessing this data presents major challenges.