White House appoints first ever chief data scientist

The White House has a new employee: Chief Data Scientist and Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy, DJ Patil. His high-level job description, according to the White House blog, is that he'll help "shape the practices and policies to help the United States remain a leader in technology and innovation." On a more granular note, newly appointed US chief technology officer Megan Smith says that he'll be working on the Precision Medicine Initiative that uses data to help physicians provide better care while protecting their privacy.

Before joining the White House staff, Patil worked as a data scientist with eBay, PayPal and Skype, among others, and spent some time in academia, in addition to helping the Department of Defense study social media networks to predict emerging domestic threats. All this to say, he's incredibly qualified to hold position as the country's first-ever CDS. ​Patil's hiring shouldn't exactly come as a surprise, either: one of President Obama's biggest directives during his tenure has been to utilize public data and make it usable by everyone. Naturally, there would need to be someone to take care of all of that info.

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