The European Commission has decided to scrap its chief scientific advisor (CSA) role. The current CSA, Professor Anne Glover (pictured), tweeted about the incredible achievement of the European Space Agency at the same time as her post was being axed.
The past week saw two significant events in European science. You know about the first one - the triumphant Rosetta mission which landed a probe on a comet. But the other event was less publicised, and much less welcome.
The title of this article was also that of a talk I gave at the RSS Conference in Sheffield this September. In a way, I was trying to provoke the audience and to some extent I succeeded, but maybe not enough as a lot of the audience seemed to agree with me. As the man who was disciplined by the RSS Professional Affairs Committee many years back for daring to suggest that statistics should not only be done by statisticians, I have a reputation to live up to.
We are experiencing a data revolution. Projections alone for the volume of data speak of 40 zettabyte, or over 5 terabyte per person, by 2020. Data is everywhere: vendor-driven buzzwords like 'big data' dominate the private sector, the general public is more aware of metadata in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, and we see a positive uptake of data in our daily lives in the form of, for example, transportation apps based on open data and tools for the quantification of fitness activities. Like the internet, data is here to stay.
The American Statistical Association (ASA) leadership, and many in statistics academia, have been undergoing a period of angst in the last few years. They worry that the field of statistics is headed for a future of reduced national influence and importance, with the feeling that, the field is to a large extent being eclipsed by other disciplines, notably computer science.