Data Science is mainly a Human Science

Data Science is mainly a Human Science: in latest KDnuggets Poll, 62% of data scientists worked only/mostly on human data. At the same time, most data scientists worked with both human and machine data.

By Gregory Piatetsky@kdnuggets, Sep 23, 2014. (re-posted with permission of

The results of the latest KDnuggets Poll:

What kind of data science did you do in the past 3 years?

Data Science is Human Scienceshow that Data Science is mainly a Human Science, with 62% of respondents working ONLY or MOSTLY on data science for humans. Only 14% have worked only or mostly on machine data. The “Other” votes could represent people working on non-human biological data or purely scientific data, like astronomy.

At the same time, about 60% of respondents worked with both human and machine data, casting doubt on the assertion that there are 2 types of data scientists: ones that work with machine data, and ones that work with human data.

“What kind of data science did you do in the past 3 years: [195 votes total]

>Only Data Science for Humans (63) 32%
>Mostly Data Science for Humans (59) 30%
>About equally Data Science for Humans and for Machines (40) 21%
>Mostly Data Science for Machines (17) 8.7%
>Only Data Science for Machines (11) 5.6%
>Other (5) 2.6%

The table below gives a regional breakdown for 4 regions with sufficient representation, with 5 “Other” votes excluded.

We note that Europe and Asia have higher machine-data experience than the US, while in Latin America almost all data scientists who responded work with human data.

Region Only or Mostly Human Data Equally Human and Machine Data Only or Mostly Machine Data
US/Canada (51%) 66% 19% 11%
Europe (27%) 49% 30% 21%
Asia (11%) 52% 24% 24%
Latin America (8.2%) 94% 0% 6%
ALL 62% 21% 15%

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