Forbes
Datas Cartographers Image Credit: Forbes
Datas Cartographers Image Credit: Forbes

Data's Cartographers

Two philosophers are using machine learning and artificial intelligence to create a real-time map of the global economy, and the world’s largest financial firms are lining up at its door.

Antoine Gara

HOW MUCH DID the federal government shutdown cost? After 35 days of deadlock, $6,354,845,148 in wages had gone unpaid to 747,573 federal employees. Every second that ticked by added $2,118 to the figure. Some staffers were furloughed; many more worked without pay. At the Department of Homeland Security, for example, some 245,405 employees were unpaid and 32,706 furloughed. At Treasury, 36,309 workers were furloughed and 82,336 worked unpaid. At the Environmental Protection Agency, 52% of its staffers worked without compensation.

Getting a handle on the magnitude of this disruption—as well as its granular details—was no small feat. A little-known New York City fintech company named Enigma tabulated the rising costs in real time on a website it threw up called

In order to do so, Enigma searched the Office of Management & Budget’s contingency plans for 109 federal departments. It also tapped FederalPay.org for average salaries and worker counts for 46 agencies. In all, it combed through 2,000 pages and 2 million spreadsheet rows of federal data to create the tracker. From idea to launch, the effort took three Enigma number crunchers a total of 36 hours.

The shutdown data is available free, but Enigma’s ability to rapidly make sense of multiple disconnected data sources, public and private, and create a customizable view of the global economy has attracted some of the world’s leading companies, from BlackRock to PayPal and Ce


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