Big data not only will change our world, it will change the world we imagine

It's not a big data bubble — it's a big data revolution; connected cars are here; and executives get in on big data.

The magnitude of big data’s role eclipses the hype

In a post at NPR, Adam Frank argued that the potential and extent of big data’s role and influence in our world is akin to the role the steam engine played in technological and scientific advances in the 19th century.

Frank highlighted a piece at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which one detractor warned against becoming “bewitched” by data or expecting it to “replace our traditional methods of discovering the truth,” and argued that human intuition will still be required to achieve understanding. Frank wrote that while the writer’s point is taken, it doesn’t diminish the magnitude of big data’s potential:

“I believe there is something real and powerful happening in the Big Data revolution. It’s more than just a fad. It’s the next link in the long chain connecting culture and technology to human history. … Through new fields like data science and network theory, Big Data will not only change the world we move through as individuals, it will change the world we imagine through science.”

In a guest post at GigaOm, Gurjeet Singh, co-founder and CEO of Ayasdi, expressed similar sentiments, warning against the hype around big data and allowing the perception of a “big data bubble” to sidetrack us from big data’s potential to address global problems.

Singh noted that at present, we’re only analyzing 1% of the world’s data and offered thoughts on how we can change the way we think about and gain knowledge from data, and what we need to move forward. “If we’re able to analyze the other 99 percent, then think about all of the ways that we can change the world,” Singh wrote. “We can accelerate economic growth, cure cancer and other diseases, reduce the risk of terrorist attacks, and many other big ticket challenges that we’re faced with.”

Your car on the Internet

Automatic Labs launched its Automatic Link device that plugs into a car’s onboard computer and connects it to a smartphone to gather a variety of data while a user drives. Liz Gannes reported at All Things Digital that she went for a test ride to experience the technology firsthand.

Gannes noted that the device provides information on fuel efficiency, sends crash alerts to emergency services, can identify problems that trigger the check-engine light, and can locate a parked car. It also provides real-time driving feedback, she said, and will chirp at a driver when she exceeds 70 mph or brakes or accelerates too hard. At the end of a trip, the device also will produce a report summarizing where the car went, gas mileage achieved and estimated gas expense, all of which it will compile with other trips to show driving trends and trip timelines.

According to Automatic’s website, the device can be pre-ordered for $69.95, works on both iOS and Android platforms, and is compatible with almost any gasoline-powered car built in the U.S. since 1996 — you can check your car’s compatibility on the company’s website.

ReadWrite’s Fredric Paul reviewed a connected car presentation made at the Cisco Editors Conference and highlighted the practical benefits of connecting a car to the Internet — not just for individual drivers, but for business owners and even city planners.

Maciej Kranz, VP and GM of Cisco’s Connected Industries Group, highlighted several statistics, Paul reported, regarding wasted commuting time, urban traffic congestion, fuel waste at stoplights, and causes of accidents — all of which Kranz said could be improved with connected cars. “Intelligent stoplights, for example, would know if there were 10 cars waiting in one direction but only one in the other, and adjust light timing to keep traffic moving,” Paul wrote. “Along straight routes, Kranz said, they can build ‘green waves’ of traffic signals to keep lanes flowing efficiently.”

Paul said Kranz also noted increased benefits to connecting all the car parts and subsystems together: “When you connect a car to the Net, he said, ‘good things happen. More good things happen when you connect all of the systems.'” You can read Paul’s full report at ReadWrite.

IBM brings big data to the suits upstairs, POLITICO hosts a CEO Roundtable

IBM has announced it will launch a Customer Experience Lab to assist corporate executives with big data issues. Nick Statt reported at ReadWrite that the the new lab “aims to deploy 100 hand-picked specialists — industry titans from the world of machine learning, analytics, and a slew of other ‘Big Data’ fields — as a consulting consortium aimed at aiding C-suite executives.”

Statt said IBM isn’t looking to educate executives, but to provide more of a “need-based big data consulting service” where the executives will work alongside the experts to create new business strategies based on their company’s data. Three areas of focus will be used to guide business solutions, he reported: customer insight, customer engagement, and employee engagement. You can read Statt’s full report at ReadWrite.

In loosely related news, leaders from several big corporations gathered recently for POLITICO’s CEO Roundtable. Tony Romm reported in a post at POLITICO that the executives are expecting “significant disruptions to education and transportation and new, lower-cost batteries” to shake up the U.S. economy, and they all agree big data is going to be a key driver in innovation.

Romm reported that AOL co-founder Steve Case noted during the discussion that “the Internet has not yet disrupted more than half the economy, and that’s going to be the transition over the next 25 years.” Additionally, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers identified the “Internet of everything” as the “fourth wave of innovation — after email, commerce and mobile.” You can read Romm’s full report, and find a short video from the roundtable, at POLITICO.

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