“We have relied too much on the impersonal and abstract “power tools” of data science to do this work”

Chris Moradi & Bryan Bischof:

Beginning today, we’re moving into the future by starting the artisanal, small-batch data science movement. Going forward, every calculation performed, every datum accessed and stored, and every visualization drawn will be done by hand.

As part of this transition, we’re replacing our existing platform tools with new ones. We have begun the process of moving our existing S3 data warehouse to C3 (calligraphic card catalog) where each record will be stored on a hand-written card. We’ve replaced our GPUs with our new HPC (human processing cohort)—our staff of mathematicians who will perform all computations by hand using pencil and paper. They have already begun training a new BERT model which we hope will be done by 2025 or perhaps sooner with early stopping due to hand cramps. Instead of the artificial dropout implemented in many deep-learning frameworks, this approach includes natural dropout due to coffee and bathroom breaks. Our data visualization experts have begun transitioning from D3 to 3-D pop-up books and flipbooks for animations. Finally, we’ve moved our APIs to ECS (elaborate call service) where each request is communicated via phone call that gets routed through our switchboard to a locally-sourced, free-range data scientist to make the prediction.

We’re excited about the new path ahead of us and look forward to other data science organizations joining this movement. Someday our work will not only be the result of the careful problem framing, data analysis, and coding that we practice today; it will be imbued with the craftsmanship and sense of purpose that only comes when all work is done slowly and deliberately by hand. Going forward we’ll live by the motto: “Move slow and make things.”