The Legend of Data Science | Jeff Jonas


April 20th, 2020

51 mins 29 secs

Season 2

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About this Episode

On this episode of The Artists of Data Science, we get a chance to hear from Jeff Jonas, a data scientist who, for over three decades, has been at the forefront of solving complex big data problems for companies and governments.

His software has helped casinos identify fraud, increased voter registration, protected Singapore’s waterways from piracy, and even predicted possible collisions between 600,000 asteroids over 25 years.

Jeff shares with us his journey from creating word processors in high school to being able to sell one of his companies to IBM, along with being one of three people to complete every Ironman triathlon in the global circuit.

[15:46] "For everybody that's had a close call in life…every day since then has been an extra day. When you think about life like that, it allows you to just unleash a little bit more and make the most of it…"

[31:01] "…You have to let new observations reverse earlier assertions."

[34:31] "If you don't have something that's like 10 times better and high margins, then you can't innovate"

[43:03] "…My work is often about helping humans focus their finite resources"





[00:01:20] The introduction for our guest today

[00:03:53] Jeff walks us through professional journey, how you first heard of data science and machine learning. And what drew him to the field.

[00:05:53] Where do you see the field of artificial intelligence data science machine learning headed in the next two to five years? Jeff talks abou how he sees the field flatlining and how COVID-19 is changing the landscape of the field

[00:07:55] Jeff talks to us about what he thinks is going to separate the great data scientists from the good ones. He talks about the importance of being able to combine data in a way that is going to make it easy to understand the real world, he also makes a distinction between AI and Machine Learning

[00:09:59] There's there's a time very early in his career when he went bankrupt and was living out of his car. Jeff talks to us about what he's saying to himself to get him through that. What did he learn from that to go on to create something bigger and better than what you had before?

[00:13:25] When Jeff 23 years old he was completely paralyzed after terrible accident, he talks about his mindset and the self talk he had during that time. He shares was going on in his head and then how he you overcame those challenges

[00:16:45] A bit of data history - Jeff talks about the different programming languages he was using early in his career.

[00:17:01] Tips for anyone contemplating entrepreneurship

[00:20:19] Jeff talks about what he thinks will be the biggest opportunities for entrepreneurship in the post-COVID world.

[00:22:33] The one soft-skil that will make or break your career as a data scientist and how you can cultivate it within yourself.

[00:24:32] So what compelled you to come to complete every Iron Man on the planet? And can you share some of the many, many accomplishments that you've had in that space?

[00:27:01] Jeff describes an ironman event he did in Mallorca, Spain and the logistics of having to travel half way around the world back to Kentucky to compete in another ironman two days later.

[00:28:42] The infamous "Tastes like Mango" Story

[00:31:25] There's a lot of people out there who were trying to to break into data science. And maybe they don't feel like they feel like they don't belong or they don't know enough. They aren't smart enough or whatever. Do you have any words of encouragement for them?

[00:32:41] What's the one thing you want people to learn from your story?

[00:33:09] Jumping in to the lightning round: What's the number one book, fiction or nonfiction that you would recommend for our audience to read and who are most impactful take away from that?

[00:34:50] So if you could somehow get a magical telephone that allowed you to contact 18 year old Jeff, what would you tell him?

[00:35:50] Jeff talks about the work he's done in his career from the Llama Birth registration project he completed, to the modernization of voter registration.

[00:37:12] Jeff has over 100 inventions to his name - he talks about some of his most favorite ones.

[00:38:30] Jeff talks about the project he did with astronomers which involved identifying where in space asteroids are going to be, and which ones may possibly collide with each other or earth.

[00:43:54] Which of your inventions do you think is most relevant now to the current times?

[00:45:43] A quick primer on entity resolution and a very simple example of interweaving common sense with real time AI

[00:47:29] So what's the best advice you ever received?

[00:47:57] Do you have a favorite Iron Man event?

[00:48:31] So what motivates you?

[00:49:10] So how can people connect with you? When can they find you?

[00:49:57] The importance of being accessible

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