Data in the Modern Space Age
PERSPECTIVES

Data in the Modern Space Age

It has been said that any technology sufficiently advanced will look like magic.

In the 1960’s, a variety of television shows delighted and entertained their audiences with exotic technological devices and fanciful futuristic automated assistants that helped humans at work, at home, and at play. We knew that the things we saw on science fiction and deep space adventure shows were fiction, not magic. But I suspect that if – in the sixties – we had encountered any of those technologies in real life, we almost certainly would have said it was some sort of magic trick – or filmmaker’s special effect.

Data in the Modern Space Age

What kinds of things are we talking about? Well, the list would include flying cars, robots delivering goods autonomously to anywhere, house-cleaning robots, food replicators, dynamically changing shapeshifters, handheld communication devices, touchless medical diagnostic assessment recorders, question-answering computers, computers playing chess (and other difficult games), and mysterious real-time “black box” universal translators.

Now, flash-forward 50 years from the science fantasy entertainment of the sixties to the present day. What do we see?

More Innovation than We had Expected

Today we see essentially real-life versions of every one of those things listed above,  plus other “magical” innovations:

Most of these technologies, like mobile phones, don’t seem to be particularly magical to us nowadays, but at least one or two (e.g., deep learning algorithms) are still somewhat black box and mysterious.

Some of these technologies are as ubiquitous across today’s world as sliced bread. Whether they are commonplace and widely adopted, or else still in R&D, what powers practically all of them is not sliced bread, but sliced and diced data!

Data Powers these Modern Marvels

Data is the informant (the fuel) that informs (powers) the machine learning, machine intelligence (AI), and automated processes that enable the modern magical technologies to do their thing. High-volume, high-variety, and high-velocity data make it all possible.

As a matter of fact, data makes possible:

(1) Real-time information-gathering that comes from multiple “sensory” inputs

(2) Operational understanding that informs next action

(3) Cognitive predictive and prescriptive insights that inform next best (optimal) action

(4) Learning systems that learn quickly

(5) Process automation that drives today’s digital devices and applications.

Data also makes possible countless innovative implementations of the five A’s of the real AI: Augmented, Assisted, Amplified, Adaptable, and Actionable Intelligence that help humans in many beneficial ways. Even today, a lot of that still looks like magic, and it still delights us.


Want more of Dr. Kirk Borne’s series of insights? Visit our Kirk Borne page now. Ask him questions directly or share your thoughts on Twitter or by emailing datamakespossibleinfo@wdc.com

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