Big Data

March 16th, 2013

We know that companies like Amazon have vast amounts of data on our purchases and that they use it in order to recommend other products to us; just as Netflix can recommend our movies. But imagine aggregating millions of pieces of medical data, all with their genomic information, so that our generic profile can, with a high degree of probability, tell us what diseases we might get and how to treat them.    Think about how Google was able to head off a worldwide flu pandemic by aggregating vast amount of search data about flu.

This is the kind of data that can tell when we will be sick, even before we know it; or when our car will need service, even before it breaks down. Or, as in the movie Minority Report, data that can predict who will be a criminal, even before the crime is committed. These are just a few of thing we should be thinking about with respect to what’s referred to today as big data.

Ken Cukier is the data editor of the Economist and takes a look at these issues in Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think.

My conversation with Ken Cukier: