Big Data, Big Job

Still with the Google theme I started with my last post.  I read an interesting report called The Promise and Peril of Big Data on the Aspen Institute website .  The author, David Bollier, discusses a lot of large numbers to characterize the exponential growth of data, including something called, and I quote:  “a yottabyte, which is a trillion terabytes or, as one website describes it, “everything that there is.” 

 And in ten years we’ll probably be able to fit all that on a thumb drive. (joking, at least for now I think)

The report mentions Google often, and with good reason.  That company is in existence because they figured out how to efficiently collect massive amounts of information and, through correlation, monetize the exercise.   What I find interesting about the report is the debate around whether that’s all we need as a society.  Whether the collection and correlation cancels out the need for scientific theorizing and the modeling and testing of theories.  At this point I side with the science folks on this one and this quote from Michael Chui of McKinsey & Company sums it up nicely: “Theory is about predicting what you haven’t observed yet. Google’s headlights only go as far as the data it has seen.”  Pretty clear-cut, no?  It can be argued that Google has done and continues to do a tremendous amount of good via the way it collects and transforms data to become, in a sense, more than it is.  But still, it hits that wall of limitations.  It can’t know what it can’t see.   At least for now.  Who knows what sort of sophisticated programs can be developed to mimic the thought processes of top scientists? 

All this leads to a link that caught my eye today.  It came to me through a subscription email and it was touted as “industry reports” about how the top jobs in technology are related to data mining and machine learning, business intelligence, and analytical statistics.  I don’t disagree with this but I was disappointed to discover that when I clicked on the link, the “industry reports” was a blog site for a person from Microsoft.  That would have been fine except the blog post did not contain any links or references to any published studies or reports.  The list of top jobs was that one person’s opinion. My point for including this anecdote in this particular post is that, yes, there is a tremendous amount of data being generated and not all of it is useful or even honest.  Google has its work cut out for it.

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

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