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Do you know what Canada’s favorite food is? That’s right, it’s Poutine. How do we know that? Because of data. When you see information like; the highest paying programming languages, trending mobile app ideas, or predictions about Bitcoin or Dogecoin prices or Coinbase IPO, it’s all possible due to heaps of data.
More data enables us to see things that are not possible with smaller amounts of it. The point here is that more data doesn’t just let us see more of the same thing. It allows us to see new and more of related things too. It allows us to see better & different.
Now, most of you must be familiar with the term “big data”. There is a lot of hype around it and many believe that big data is better data. It is one of the biggest driving forces behind societal, scientific, & technological progress. In the past, we used to look at the world with limited information. Today, we have access to a lot more information, more than we can imagine. With it, we can fundamentally do things that we could not think of before.
Big data is important. Think about it. It can play a vital role in dealing with global challenges such as feeding the hungry & needy, alleviating poverty, or fighting global warming. Yes, it can help us do all that. That’s the power of big data.
What is Big Data?
To understand what it is, let’s think about what information looked like in ancient times. Some of the discoveries by archeologists included clay discs, dating back to 2000 BC. These discs had mysterious inscriptions on them that we don’t understand. The point is, this is what data used to look like back then. It has always been there and people have tried to store it in the best possible way.
Now, that hasn’t changed much. We still use discs to store data but now we can store incomprehensible amounts of it. The disc from 2000 BC was big & heavy, stored limited information that cannot be changed. Fast forward to today, we can store more usable data in memory stick the size of a fingernail.
It has made searching, copying, sharing, and processing easier. We can also reuse information, something that wasn’t possible before. The data has gone from something static and state to a much more fluid & dynamic one. In this respect, big data is better data.
One reason why there’s so much data today is that the magnitude at which we’re collecting information on everything we always used to has increased. Another major reason is that we’re taking things that have always been informational and converting them into a data format. For example; location. If we were to locate where my great-great-grandfather was at a particular time, it would require someone following him at all times.
Today, however, things are totally different. Somewhere, in your mobile phone carrier’s database, there is information about your daily whereabouts. If you own a mobile phone and it has a sim card in it, it can easily record this information. In this way, location is now data.
Take another example of mental health. The way you react to certain stimuli, the frequency of panic attacks, and what triggers them. If we put sensors to a human brain, we can record brain activity and get valuable insights into how the brain works. So how is this useful? Well, this information can be used to predict panic attacks, nervous breakdowns, and present cures for them. These solutions can save a life by preventing a person in depression from committing suicide.
This is all big data and we can do so much more by turning more aspects of our lives into data.
Why is Big Data so important?
So you may ask, what is the value of big data? One of the most impressive big data applications is taking place in the field of Machine Learning (ML).
So how do AI and big data relate?
The idea here is that instead of directing computers, data is thrown at them and AI & ML-driven software will figure out solutions on their own. Here’s an example that will make you ask; “can artificial intelligence replace humans?”
In the 1950s, an IBM Computer Scientist, Arthur Lee Samuel created a computer checkers game so he could play against it. He played and he won. This happened every time because the computer only knew about the legal moves and Arthur knew more, he has a strategy.
He then wrote another program and what it did was learn the board configurations that would either lead to winning or losing. He plays again and wins. Samuel then leaves the machine to play itself for a while and then goes to play with it again. This time, he loses. Arthur had created an intelligent machine that beat its creator.
This idea of Machine Learning is going places. How do you think self-driving cars work? It’s not because the memory and processors are cheaper now. It is due to technological feats like AI & ML and also a change in the way problem is presented to the machines. Instead of spoonfeeding the car computer and explaining it how to drive, we say, for example; ‘’here is data about traffic signals. Figure out that it is a traffic light and figure out what green and red light mean and make appropriate decisions.”
AI and ML are at the heart of almost all online activities. Google search engine, Amazon’s personalization algorithms, computer translations, & voice recognition systems. They all do what they do with the help of artificial intelligence & machine learning.
Researchers are also harnessing the power of big data & AI to study cancer. They ask artificially intelligent machines to look at big data and spot cancerous cells (if any). As expected, the smart machines, with AI-powered software was able to identify traces of cancerous cells. Where medical literature only knew 9 traits, machines identified 3 more. Another reason why it’s safe to assume that big data is better data.
What is the Future scope of Big Data?
Big data is transforming how we live, work, and make decisions. It is going to help shape our career paths and allow us to lead a satisfying, happy, & healthy life. We need to push the reset button on our perception and recognize the importance of data.
Humanity can now learn from the heaps of useful information collected every day and understand the world much better. And for that reason alone, big data is better data.
Are you an established business or a startup looking to enhance your software’s capabilities to utilize big data? Get in touch with InvoZone.