Make disclosures machine readable

Anybody who works with numbers knows this. The sheer frustration of looking at PDF sheets of data. The job of turning dumb data into an intelligent one shows up in increasing medical bills to fix your back and neck. And while the physiotherapist chides you for not taking care, you have dark thoughts about those that may have deliberately put out a PDF instead of a usable format.

The entire issue of data disclosure and use fell into place for me during the buzzy breakfast meeting organized byMint last week. Top chief executive officers (CEOs) met with Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago in New Delhi for a conversation. For those who don’t know Thaler, he is known as the co-parent of behavioural economics—the wonderful new field that allows for us to be Captain Kirk and Penny, and not Mr Spock or Sheldon Cooper. In other words, it allows for irrationality in decision making as the standard state of human beings, rather than a perfect utility maximizing economic agent. His book, Nudge, has put the use of choice architecture to good use in policy, regulation and government.

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