What are some of the most interesting ways data is currently being used? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
There are so many applications where people are using data to create interesting machine learning models that can automate things (car automation, anomaly detection, facial recognition, etc.) -- it would take too long to be exhaustive. Programming was so cool to automate tedious tasks that this opens up a new world of automation that hasn't existed yet.
I find the use of data in determining who will win contests or elections at astonishingly high accuracy to be really interesting. It's changing the tactics people are using to win -- it's uncertain whether it's a positive or negative change in the long run, though.
Music is becoming more data-centric these days. If you're a musician, the world is completely transforming from selling units in the store and seeing your spot on the billboard 100 to the number of streams and plays you get from YouTube, Spotify, or Soundcloud in order to drive distribution and improve brand recognition. I think the music industry will become much more quantified.
With the advent of people being to create new kinds of hardware easily, we're starting to see new applications of automation that didn't exist before. The combination of that + the internet being almost everywhere is making it possible to log data about anything. That shift is leading to all kinds of new insight that we haven't had before. For example, there are companies automating aspects of farming now, which makes it easier to be much more data-driven about an industry that doesn't appear to be very data-driven.
As a counterpoint to this question: I am most surprised and disappointed that personal finance (for everyone, not just the rich) is not nearly as quantified as it probably should be in today's day and age. There seems like a major difference in the world we could make if we helped people in this regard, particularly given how available the data is, how confusing the finance industry feels to the common person, and how significant of an impact it can make on an individual if people start thinking about it earlier.