WIRED: Data is the New Oil of the Digital Economy
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 07:08AM
Charlie in Digital Financial Reporting

In his WIRED article Data is the New Oil of the Digital Economy, Joris Toonders points out the value of data in today's digital age for those that learn to extract and harvest that data.  But there is one thing that is even more valuable than data.  Metadata.

Fortune has a similar article, Data is the New Oil, by Jonathan Vanian. The tag line of that article is, "Artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it crunches."

While it is true that data is important; metadata is even more important.  The key ingredient in a knowledge based system is domain knowledge.  Metadata organizes knowledge.  What is not in dispute is the need for a "thick metadata layer" and the benefits of that metadata in terms of getting a computer to be able to perform useful and meaningful work. This is simply science.

But what is sometimes disputed, it seems, is how to most effectively and efficiently get that thick metadata layer.  There are two basic approaches to getting this metadata layer:


And this is not an "either/or" question.  Both automated and manual knowledge acquisition methods can be used.  The question is how to best combined the two approaches to most effectively and efficiently get the important metadata you need.

Because knowledge acquisition can be slow and tedious, much of the future of artificial intelligence and expert systems depends on breaking the knowledge acquisition bottleneck and in codifying and representing a large knowledge infrastructure using automation. But, domain professionals are still going to need to participate.  And to participate, they need to understand knowledge and knowledge science.

So how do you do that?  Where do you even start?  Does this mean you have to get completely retrained?  No.  You only need to learn some important fundamentals and everything will fall into place. 

You can start here, Introduction to Knowledge Engineering for Professional Accountants.  Once you read that, you will understand that there are a few additional pieces, which can all be found in PART 1 - Foundation for Understanding: Background, Framework, Theory, Principles.

I figure there is about 187 pages of information that professional accountants need to understand in order to be well positioned for the digital age of accounting and reporting.

Article originally appeared on Intelligent XBRL-based structured digital financial reporting using US GAAP and IFRS (http://xbrl.squarespace.com/).
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