Big Data has emerged as one of the most talked about technology trends in 2012. Although there is legitimate debate on the extent to which Big Data will reshape marketing, information gathering and self-tracking, it is clear that as we add more internet connected devices to our environment and more data is collected, big data’s toolset will be valuable for helping us transform this accumulated information into actionable knowledge.
This recent interview with Sandy Pentland on Edge.org. is filled with terrific (and hype-free) perspective into the potential big data has in positively impacting our lives. Although I encourage you to read the full article, I’ve highlighted a few quotes I found particularly insightful.
“The other problem with Big Data is human understanding. When you find a connection that works, you’d like to be able to use it to build new systems, and that requires having human understanding of the connection. The managers and the owners have to understand what this new connection means. There needs to be a dialogue between our human intuition and the Big Data statistics, and that’s not something that’s built into most of our management systems today. Our managers have little concept of how to use big data analytics, what they mean, and what to believe.”
“This is the first time in human history that we have the ability to see enough about ourselves that we can hope to actually build social systems that work qualitatively better than the systems we’ve always had. That’s a remarkable change. It’s like the phase transition that happened when writing was developed or when education became ubiquitous, or perhaps when people began being tied together via the Internet.”
“It’s this history of thinking about signals and people together, and how people work via these computer systems, and what data about human behavior can do, that led me to the realization that we’re at a phase transition. We are moving from the reasoning of the enlightenment about classes and about markets to fine grain understanding of individual interactions and systems built on fine grain data sharing.”