Big Data

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Kentucky is leading the nation in its use of big data to help determine bail and criminal sentences.

The data-driven programs Kentucky and at least 20 other states use, like PSA-Court, look at a variety of factors including charges and criminal history. That information is given to a judge to help determine whether the defendant gets out on bail and how long their sentence will be.

Big data is everywhere and it's getting more complex. Mathematicians seem to think we have effective ways to analyze it, but are still in need of developing the tools to reach conclusions. Just look at what happened as people tried to sign up for the online insurance marketplace. Computer code glitches shut it down and President Obama promised a tech surge for the problem.

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

One sure way to get a job these days is to be a "Big Data" specialist. These are the people who can interpret massive amounts of information and tell businesses how to use it to make money. It's a very specialized set of skills involving computer science, business and statistics. The Harvard Business Review says the dominant trait among data scientists is an intense curiosity.