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Bold Leader Spotlight: Andreas Weigend, Former Chief Scientist at Amazon

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Everyone has a good idea about the impact of social media in today’s world, but what about social data? For Andreas Weigend, former Chief Scientist at Amazon and international consultant, lecturer and educator, the bigger deal is social data. As an expert in predictive analytics and neural networks, Weigend sees social data as a truly transformative tool. In essence, social data sharing has much more potential than it does risks from his perspective.

cartoon caricature of Andreas Weigend, who believes in social data power, posing as the bold leader spotlight of the week
Andreas Weigend says there are a lot of positive things that come with social data. Can social data potentially revolutionize many industries in the future?

As a bold leader, Weigend is striving to educate individuals, businesses, and society in regards to social data concepts. He pursues this mission through major academic institutions, as a best-selling author, and as a consultant for top international firms. In an age where privacy is rapidly evaporating, he believes data should be used to empower everyone. And for Weigend, he has dedicated his life to raising awareness in this regard to realize this goal.

Andreas Weigend quoted
You either go against social data or make it work for you.

Andreas Weigend’s Extensive Expertise – A Proficient Resume of Achievements

Born in Germany in 1961, Weigend began his early years studying philosophy and physics. He continued these studies in Karlsruhe, Cambridge, and Bonn before ultimately receiving his PhD from Stanford in neural networks. Since that time, he has published more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed articles. Likewise, he has authored or co-authored a total of six books. And he routinely teaches at numerous institutions including Stanford, UC Berkeley, NYU, University of Washington, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. By all accounts, the world recognizes him for his expertise in social data analytics.

Weigend’s knowledge of social data and its effects has been utilized outside the world of academia, of course. Until 2004, he served as the Chief Scientist for Amazon involved in predictive models of consumer behaviors and customer networking. He has also served as Chief Strategist of Strands Labs, Inc. In 2018, he was appointed to Germany’s Digital Council to address digital literacy issues. And Weigend has served as a consultant to some of the world’s largest firms. Alibaba, SAP, Reuters, and Goldman Sachs are just a few that deserve mention. By any measure, Weigend has attained tremendous knowledge and expertise when it comes to data management.

Andreas Weigend quoted
Understanding social data better takes away our fear of perceived risks.

Social Data – Defining a Concept and Its Future

In defining the concept of social data, Weigend first explains it from the perspective of social media. Social media broadcast information in one direction. Individuals who expect to benefit from socialization create and share raw information through social data. On an individual basis, an example would be turning on geolocation services and gaining the benefits of identifying commuter traffic. In doing so, social data is created and shared, which helps both the individual and others nearby.

The future of social data is a powerful one, according to Weigend. Companies that appreciate its impact in helping individuals and society will be the ones to truly thrive. This is why Weigend believes sharing social data is the means to a better world for everyone. But data analytics must be used in a way that it empowers rather than controls. Social data should therefore not be viewed in a transactional way where a person shares information in an exchange. Rather, social data should be seen as relational in nature enhancing all interactions throughout society. This is what Weigend foresees as the future of social data.

Andreas Weigend quoted
Social data usage should be transparent.

Social Data and Rights of Empowerment

Understanding that social data should be relational in nature between individuals and companies, individual empowerment should be encouraged. According to Weigend, this means that social data usage should be both transparent and encourage individual agency. The best use of social data creates interactive platforms where firms and consumers both win. Through the sharing of social data, better decision-making can result for everyone, but it demands openness and shared goals.

With this in mind, Weigend notes several rights that should be protected for those whose social data is collected. These include the right to access and review of personal data and the right to amend or blur parts of it. It also should include the right to experiment in ways to change it and to transport it. If these measures are in place, then social data has the capacity to greatly empower everyone while enhancing society-at-large.

A Visionary Bold Leader

Social data and all types of information have the potential to wield good and bad effects. Weigend appreciates this after learning the profound impact false information had on his own father’s life. After being falsely accused of being an American spy in East Germany, his father spent six years in a Soviet prison. But despite these risks, Weigend foresees social data as a means for positive change.

In his vision of the future, Weigend anticipates social data will be leveraged in many innovative ways. From insurance coverage to financial credit loans, social data could revolutionize many industries. Similarly, its impacts on employment circles are already taking place. But Weigend’s bold leadership as a visionary doesn’t stop there. His mission hopes to promote the type of future where social data creates a better place for all to live. And the more lives that Andreas Weigend touches, the more likely this scenario will be.

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