Big data and serendipity

We started talking about hydroponics and he started to tell me about microgreens, we finished up talking about how Big Data will be tracking fish in the Atlantic. What became obvious is that Andrew is one of the early creative pioneers of computing and big data.

Andrew taught himself to code using a Commodore VIC-20. Back in those days computers only had non-volatile memory that lost everything when you turned the power off. This meant spending all weekend copying code from a magazine, only to lose everything when your computer was unplugged to use the vacuum cleaner.

Andrew’s serendipitous journey started out by programming early computers, completing an art and design degree, working for Apple, creating Sky’s innovation lab, and starting a global media company. Somewhere along the way, the idea for Big Data Week was born. In the space of a couple years, Big Data Week was attracting 40 cities worldwide and having three hundred global events in one week.

Big Data Week is a place for the industry to come together and learn from each other. Andrew believes that if we leave it to the machines to decide then we might be in a difficult position. Our challenge is to get algorithms to truly understand how we construct our decisions based on ethical, philosophical, moral, social and financial factors.

The past few years have been about the gathering and storing of information, but the future is very much about the blending and mixing of datasets, even ones that are unrelated. Connecting all the different points in our life and applying machine learning to trigger interventions is how he sees Big Data developing.

“We’ve seen this with the Google’s single sign-on, bringing all their services into a single user experience…providing much more insight into customer and user behaviour…”

Privacy is still an issue of course, although some groups are looking at you how you can own and sell your personal data which changes the financial model. Will privacy be less of a concern to you if you can get paid to be tracked?

At the moment nothing is connected, your browsing data, your online purchases, your journey data, your health data, when and where you bought your last coffee.

But once we connect all this, what is it all for? Just to sell you more coffee?

We should be asking ourselves the question, beyond the goal of revenues what are the social benefits we can provide what are the intangibles that we can deliver?

For Andrew, Big Data isn’t just about revenue, it is about the health and policy benefits that Big Data can produce. Andrew is a man driven by data to make the world a better place.

Big Data Week is a forum to share your experiences, stories, and knowledge about the failures, successes, and trends in Big Data. Join like minded professional in London starting October 27. Use discount code GB25 to claim 25% off your ticket price.

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