Alternative Data News. 08, July 2020

The AltDataNewsletter by CloudQuant

Finding sources and uses for alternative data can be difficult. At CloudQuant we regularly read and search the internet for new sources of data that can be used in our mission to find alpha signals and build quantitative trading strategies. We recognize that we are technology and data junkies so we wrote our own crawler that specifically seeks out web pages, posts, and news articles that give us a snapshot of what is going on in the world of Alt Data. The following is a collection of articles that we think you will find interesting from the past week.


Watch COVID-19 spread across the continental United States

This animation visualizes the changing geography and changing epicenters of COVID-19 growth from March through June. I tried to label some points of interest along the way, but I’m curious if anyone has any ideas about other things that should be labeled. If you’re looking for a tool to get you a precise number for a particular place, this isn’t the right thing.

Data : NYT COVID-19 cases, County shapefile (modified to match NYT data) from Census Bureau, Population data by county from Census Bureau, SEDAC population density raster
Tools : QGIS, Blender, R, FFmpeg

I do have code for all this, but I want to do some cleanup before publishing the whole thing. If you’re curious about the process or particular pieces of code, I’m happy to answer those questions.

See more from David Waldron on Vimeo.

2020-07-04 Read the Full Story…

CloudQuant Thoughts : Another beautiful posting from DataIsBeautiful. David has really worked on the ‘beautiful’ on this one.

MIT takes down 80 Million Tiny Images data set due to racist and offensive content

Creators of the 80 Million Tiny Images data set from MIT and NYU took the collection offline this week, apologized, and asked other researchers to refrain from using the data set and delete any existing copies. The news was shared Monday in a letter by MIT professors Bill Freeman and Antonio Torralba and NYU professor Rob Fergus published on the MIT CSAIL website.

Introduced in 2006 and containing photos scraped from internet search engines, 80 Million Tiny Images was recently found to contain a range of racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive labels, such as nearly 2,000 images labeled with the N-word, and labels like “rape suspect” and “child molester.” The data set also contained pornographic content like non-consensual photos taken up women’s skirts. Creators of the 79.3 million-image data set said it was too large and its 32 x 32 images too small, making visual inspection of the data set’s complete contents difficult. According to Google Scholar, 80 Million Tiny Images has been cited more 1,700 times.
2020-07-01 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.1841, Raw Interest Score: 1.2881,
Positive Sentiment: 0.0585, Negative Sentiment 0.3318

CloudQuant Thoughts : Check all your data sources for bias. This should be one of the first questions you ask from here onwards.

New iPhone Feature Reveals Concerning Way Apps Like Tik Tok Are accessing Your Phone’s Clipboard Data

A new feature in Apple’s upcoming iPhone operating system has revealed privacy concerns with numerous popular applications. iOS 14, which is currently only available in beta, alerts the user when an application has access to the clipboard. The clipboard is where text is held between copying and pasting messages. It was discovered that many mainstream apps including TikTok, Reddit, and LinkedIn were accessing users’ clipboards. At least 53 applications were found to be scraping the data users copy and paste.

2020-07-06 Read the full story…

CloudQuant Thoughts : With the suggestion that it is copying your clipboard every 10 seconds regardless of what app you are currently using, and the soft promotion of the CPP it seems likely that the US Government will ban this extremely popular app.

Facebook discovers it shared user data with at least 5,000 app developers after a cutoff date

Facebook says it accidentally allowed around 5,000 developers to access data from their app’s inactive users, even though that access should have been cut off. The company explained on Wednesday it recently discovered an issue that had allowed app developers to continue receiving this information beyond the 90 days of inactivity that is meant to cut off data access until the user returns to the app and again re-authenticates.

In 2018, Facebook announced a change to the way app developers would be able to access Facebook user data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the personal data of 87 million Facebook users compromised. Among many new restrictions to Facebook’s API platform, it introduced a stricter review process for the use of Facebook Login for apps and said it would block apps’ access to users’ personal data after three months of non-use.

This latter change is the one that was not adhered to, in the case of this latest data sharing incident.

2020-07-02 Read the full story…

CloudQuant Thoughts : Nothing should surprise anyone regarding Facebook’s respect for private data.

What Price Would You Put on Your Personal Data?

Many Americans are happy to flog even their most sensitive data, and for a cheap price, too.

For all the talk of digital rights — and the Big Brotherly tentacles of Big Tech — a surprising number of Americans would sell even their most sensitive data, sometimes for a song. In fact, according to research commissioned by Okta, which develops cloud software for authenticating users, only 24% of Americans would refuse to sell any of their online information, at any price.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, users were less willing to trade biometric data, offline conversations and identifying personal information than they were data on their purchasing, browsing and location. But 15% would still sell their passwords for $100 or less. It’s hard to know exactly why users would part with even profoundly private information for such relatively small sums, though one might hazard a few guesses: They are strapped for cash; they are less fearful of corporate surveillance than people suppose; they assume that their personal data is already being secretly stolen as a matter of routine.

2020-07-06 00:00:00 Read the full story…

CloudQuant Thoughts : Then again, it appears we put little value on our personal data!

In the Right Hands, NASA Satellite Data and Analysis Make Earth Better

The number of illegal gold mines in the Amazon is increasing so fast that activists have turned to satellite imagery to identify them. Still, with thousands of new mines a year, the work was overwhelming scientists at Earthrise Alliance – they needed more hands on deck. That’s how ninth graders in Weston, Massachusetts, began locating illegal mining activity in Brazil’s protected Yanomami territory.

Earthrise is one of numerous organizations getting Earth-observation images, data, and analysis – much of which NASA makes available for free – into the hands of people working on sustainability projects. These efforts by many different aid groups are tracking illegal mining, deforestation, and groundwater resources and informing the decisions of small farmers and governments trying to support them in regions that are feeling the worst effects of climate change.

2020-07-02 Read the full story…

CloudQuant Thoughts : Help the planet without even leaving your Python IDE!


ESG Section

CloudQuant also makes available alternative datasets, these include a white paper describing the observed performance of the dataset and python code with access to the data used in the white paper via our CloudQuant Mariner backtester. For more information, head over to our data catalog page.

ESG Assets Have Grown 15% Annually

Assets under management at funds that integrate environmental, social and governance criteria have grown at 15.3% each year since 2016 and this is likely to continue.

The overall value of assets using ESG data has increased from $22.9 (€20.5) trillion in 2016 to more than $40 trillion this year according to a report, ESG Data Integration By Asset Managers: Targeting Alpha, Fiduciary Duty & Portfolio Risk Analysis, from consultancy Opimas.

Axel Pierron, co-founder and managing d…
2020-07-02 17:36:26+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.2804, Raw Interest Score: 1.6545,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1742, Negative Sentiment 0.0522

Global ESG-data driven assets hit $40.5 trillion

The value of global assets applying environmental, social and governance data to drive investment decisions has almost doubled over four years, and more than tripled over eight years, to $40.5 trillion in 2020.

Analysis of active and passive strategies by research firm Opimas showed that not all products that integrate ESG criteria into their investment strategies are labeled as “ESG” or “sustainable,” with non-ESG products also using sustainability data as a source of insight on portfolio companies.

A report of the research said active strategies represent the majority of ESG-related assets under management, at 75% in the U.S. and 82% in Europe.

However, passive ESG strategies captured about 60% of new asset inflows in the U.S. in 2019.

2020-07-02 Read the full story…

Refinitiv Launches Lipper Fund ESG Scores

Building on its commitment to connect and advance the global financial community through data and analytics, Refinitiv announced Lipper Fund ESG Scores to serve as a pivotal data-metric in the transition to sustainable investing – providing comparisons at the fund level for fund managers, advisors and investors.

Refinitiv Lipper Fund ESG Scores brings together the Lipper fund universe of 330,000 fund share classes and its deep holdings content, …
2020-07-08 09:56:23+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 4.1730, Raw Interest Score: 2.1987,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1670, Negative Sentiment 0.0835

GRI response: ESG and US-DoL investment duties regulation

Amsterdam, 29 June 2020 – Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has responded to the US Department of Labor’s proposed changes to investment duties regulation, which indicate that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors should not be considered by retirement plan fiduciaries.

Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below!
2020-06-29 19:40:17+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.2098, Raw Interest Score: 1.9065,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1816, Negative Sentiment 0.0908

Guide To Socially Responsible Funds: 23 Best Buys

Nowadays it doesn’t cost much to be an ESG investor

Protest in Seattle, 2017 (Photo by Jason Redmond) AFP via Getty Images

If the Trump Administration is skeptical about social and environmental goals in investing, individual savers are not. People are piling into funds with ethical themes. This survey of socially conscious investing identifies the best buys: 10 open-end and 13 exchange-traded funds with low expense ratios.

It’s a bit incongru…
2020-07-06 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.7833, Raw Interest Score: 1.4626,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1746, Negative Sentiment 0.1528

When Might You See ESG Issues Align With Stock Performance?

Are you interested in making a statement with your retirement assets? Are you holding back because, in using your retirement savings to make a statement, you fear there’s a cost you might not be willing to pay?

This is a reasonable fear. In the 1980s, when activists demanded “socially responsible investing” via demands institutions divest themselves of companies participating in economies of targeted countries, academic studies at that ti…
2020-07-06 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.2282, Raw Interest Score: 1.2120,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2204, Negative Sentiment 0.5264


AI For All: The US Introduces New Bill For Affordable Research

Yesterday, AIM published an article on how difficult it is for the small labs and individual researchers to persevere in the high compute, high-cost industry of deep learning. Today, the policymakers of the US have introduced a new bill that will ensure deep learning is affordable for all.

The National AI Research Resource Task Force Act was introduced in the House by Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and her colleagues. This bill was met with unanimous support from the top universities and companies, which are engaged in artificial intelligence (AI) research. Some of the well-known supporters include Stanford University, Princeton University, UCLA, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, OpenAI, Mozilla, Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and NVIDIA amongst others.

The objective of this Act is to establish a task force that develops a roadmap for a national AI research cloud.

2020-07-02 Read the full story…

Can AI Answer “What’s the Meaning Of Life”?

With artificial intelligence maturing in the current era, it is gaining immense potential in becoming a key technology for practical applications. Although the technology has displayed expertise in coming up with answers to business queries with accuracy, it often struggles to answer questions that are abstract in nature. In fact, even these conversation AI bots like Alexa and Siri are advanced in managing our schedule but if asked obscure existential questions like “meaning of life,” it will only provide you with either a hilarious response or a sarcastic joke.

However, as artificial intelligence is evolving with advancements in natural language processing, speech recognition and automated reasoning, the technology can now answer some of the tough life questions asked by humans. To test the theory, researchers from the University of New South Wales asked some moral and existential questions to Salesforce’s Conditional Transformer Language model to check if the AI is capable of answering some fundamental questions of life.
2020-07-08 06:31:39+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.3669, Raw Interest Score: 1.3095,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1797, Negative Sentiment 0.3852

Python: Online Bayesian A/B Testing!

A crash course on the Beta distribution, binomial likelihood, and conjugate priors for A/B testing

If you’re anything like me, long before you were interested in data science, machine learning, etc, you gained your initial exposure to statistics through the social sciences. In domains such as psychology, sociology, etc, a study is often conducted over a period of time (that might be days, months, or even years.) In the case of novel experiments, the results are collected, maximum likelihood estimates are produced for the mean and variance, and confidence intervals are…
2020-07-08 00:41:12.625000+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.3215, Raw Interest Score: 1.4503,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2024, Negative Sentiment 0.1939

Morgan Stanley Among Adopters of New 4U Platform: Tech Roundup

Morgan Stanley, Morningstar and T. Rowe Price are among the first major firms to announce their adoption of the new 4U online, multimedia, management and measurement platform.

The platform was created to “enhance the partnership between” investment companies and wealth management firms, according to 4U Platform, which was founded in 2015 by financial co-CEOs Denise Wypiszenski, a former Morgan Stanley Smith Barney executive, and Arin Epstein, a fintech strategist and engineer.
4U “collaborated with 50-60 companies on the investment company side, 100% of the top wealth management firms and some of the industry’s largest platform providers to receive their feedback and insight,” the firm noted. The platform was designed to meet the “everyday needs of firms of all sizes and resolves collective industry challenges by transforming multiple partner workstreams,” it added.
2020-06-30 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.8881, Raw Interest Score: 1.7439,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2097, Negative Sentiment 0.0331

IIT Madras’ Data Science Degree

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) announced the launch of India’s first online B.Sc. degree in Programming and Data Science. The programme is open to anyone who has passed Class XII, with English and Maths at the Class X level and enrolled in any on-campus UG course.

2020-07-04 12:30:20+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.8719, Raw Interest Score: 1.4040,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1504, Negative Sentiment 0.1839

Aligning Data Architecture and Data Strategy

Peter Aiken disagrees with the popular idea that it’s impossible to put a dollar value on Data Architecture.

“It won’t be the right number, but it will be at least a dollar value on it, and if there’s money involved, people should be paying attention to it.”Aiken is an author, an associate professor of Information Systems, a researcher, and the Founding Director of Data Blueprint. He spoke about Data Architecture and Data Strategy with attendees at the DATAVERSITY® Data Architecture Online Conferen…
2020-07-07 07:35:30+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.8538, Raw Interest Score: 1.3627,
Positive Sentiment: 0.3061, Negative Sentiment 0.2567

How Data Science Is Revolutionising Our Social Visibility

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the social visibility of brands, paving the way for more incisive approaches towards marketing.

The huge potential of AI in social media has led to Markets and Markets forecasting that the industry of deep learning, machine learning and NLP within sales marketing, customer experience management and predictive risk assessment within social platforms will grow to more than $2.1 billion in …
2020-07-06 23:24:57+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.8377, Raw Interest Score: 1.3043,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2531, Negative Sentiment 0.0487

Google Teams With NVIDIA On New Cloud Computing Offerings

NVIDIA announced on Tuesday that just weeks after its release, the A100 Tensor Core graphics processing unit (GPU) has been adopted by Google Cloud, a division of Alphabet.

The Accelerator-Optimized VM (A2) family, available on Google Compute Engine, is designed specifically to handle some of the most demanding applications out there, including artificial intelligence (AI) workloads and high performance computing (HPC). This makes Google the fir…
2020-07-08 06:20:05-04:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.7630, Raw Interest Score: 1.4354,
Positive Sentiment: 0.0532, Negative Sentiment 0.0000

What is a Database Administrator (DBA)?

A database administrator (DBA) is a person who manages, maintains, and secures data in one or more data systems so that a user can perform analysis for business operations. DBAs take care of data storage, organization, presentation, utilization, and analysis from a technical perspective.

The DBA job is transitioning from being database-centric to data-centric, as Data Management becomes more autonomous. Augmented Data Management, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence(AI) make accomplishing general database upkeep easier, reducing the amount of manual labor. This, in turn, frees up the DBA to do more strategic tasks such as ensuring compliance with regulations and improving data flow performance. Many see the DBA’s responsibilities shifting from managing a few database instances and systems to managing more of them. As the number of data sources increases, DBAs will be focused on enterprise data rather than specializing in a few database technologies.
2020-07-08 07:30:13+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.4907, Raw Interest Score: 1.4646,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1246, Negative Sentiment 0.0623

5 simple tips for aspiring data scientists

My advice to help you to successfully become a data scientist

I frequently have aspiring data scientists contact me to ask for advice on how to get into data science. In this story I will go through 5 simple tips that I often give in response to these requests. Hopefully you will be able to implement them into your data science career exploration.

2020-07-06 13:50:25.213000+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.1592, Raw Interest Score: 1.2101,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2375, Negative Sentiment 0.2488


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