Stephen Baker

The Numerati
Home - Viewing one post

Dirty Data at Amex

September 29, 2008Final Jeopardy

One big problem for the Numerati: A lot of horrible data out there. My sister had gotten a new American Express card and was trying to set up online access. She had trouble, called tech assistance, and they asked her for her mother's maiden name.

She provided it.

Wrong, she was told.

Wrong? But it was right! Well, the help person said, let's look for another question. My sister asked how they came up with all these questions, and they said was told that they had lots of data on her. But if it was wrong, what was the point of trying to provide answers? In the end, the help desker asked for her last five addresses. She came up with one from the 1960s. Wrong again.

Let's make a new question, the help desk person helpfully suggested.

How about mother's maiden name?

So now they know it.

I'm in Portland, about to head out to Seattle on a train. I have an NPR interview this afternoon in Seattle, and a full day tomorrow, including a talk at Microsoft and a book talk/signing at (Elliott) Bay Books on Pioneer Square. Please come.

add comment share:






©2020 Stephen Baker Media, All rights reserved.     Site by Infinet Design







Kirkus Reviews - https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/stephen-baker/the-boost/

LibraryJournal - Library Journal

Booklist Reviews - David Pitt

Locus - Paul di Filippo

read more reviews



Prequel to The Boost: Dark Site
- December 3, 2014


The Boost: an excerpt
- April 15, 2014


My horrible Superbowl weekend, in perspective
- February 3, 2014


My coming novel: Boosting human cognition
- May 30, 2013


Why Nate Silver is never wrong
- November 8, 2012


The psychology behind bankers' hatred for Obama
- September 10, 2012


"Corporations are People": an op-ed
- August 16, 2011


Wall Street Journal excerpt: Final Jeopardy
- February 4, 2011


Why IBM's Watson is Smarter than Google
- January 9, 2011


Rethinking books
- October 3, 2010


The coming privacy boom
- August 17, 2010


The appeal of virtual
- May 18, 2010