- Let’s Pool Our Medical Data (TED) — John Wilbanks (of Science Commons fame) gives a strong talk for creating an open, massive, mine-able database of data about health and genomics from many sources. Money quote: Facebook would never make a change to something as important as an advertising with a sample size as small as a Phase 3 clinical trial.
- Verizon Sells App Use, Browsing Habits, Location (CNet) — Verizon Wireless has begun selling information about its customers’ geographical locations, app usage, and Web browsing activities, a move that raises privacy questions and could brush up against federal wiretapping law. To Verizon, even when you do pay for it, you’re still the product. Carriers: they’re like graverobbing organ harvesters but without the strict ethical standards.
- IBM Watson About to Launch in Medicine (Fast Company) — This fall, after six months of teaching their treatment guidelines to Watson, the doctors at Sloan-Kettering will begin testing the IBM machine on real patients. […] On the screen, a colorful globe spins. In a few seconds, Watson offers three possible courses of chemotherapy, charted as bars with varying levels of confidence–one choice above 90% and two above 80%. “Watson doesn’t give you the answer,” Kris says. “It gives you a range of answers.” Then it’s up to [the doctor] to make the call. (via Reddit)
- Robot Kills Weeds With 98% Accuracy — During tests, this automated system gathered over a million images as it moved through the fields. Its Computer Vision System was able to detect and segment individual plants – even those that were touching each other – with 98% accuracy.
How a small and passionate team used modern techniques to shift a business on a short timeline.
Over the past year, I assisted in creating an application that helped shift a major part of IBM to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. I did this with the help of a small but excellent development team that was inspired by the culture and practices of web startups. To be clear, it wasn’t easy – changing how we worked led to frequent friction and conflict – but in the end it worked, and we made a difference.
In mid-2013, the IBM Service Management business and engineering leaders decided to make a big bet on moving our software to the cloud. Traditionally we have sold “on premises” software products. These are software products that a customer buys, downloads, and installs on their own equipment, in their own data centers and facilities. Although we love the on-premises business, we realized that cloud delivery of software is also a great option, and as our customers evolved to a hybrid on-premises / cloud future, we needed to be there to help them.
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.”
Celebrating Data Privacy Day, how data fits into Bill Gates' education plan, and why "long data" deserves our attention.
Data Privacy Day and the fight against “digital feudalism”
Data Privacy Day was celebrated this week. Led by the National Cyber Security Alliance, the day is meant to increase awareness of personal data protection and “to empower people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint and escalate the protection of privacy and data as everyone’s priority,” according to the website.
Many companies used the day as an opportunity to issue transparency reports, re-informing users and customers about how their data is used and and how it’s protected. Google added a new section to its transparency report, a Q&A on how the company handles personal user data requests from government agencies and courts.
Medical Data Commons, Verizon Sell You, Doctor Watson, and Weedkilling Drones
IBM taps the cloud to make Hadoop easier, Factual cleans geo data, Google gets transparent with gov data requests.
IBM targets businesses with a cloud-based Hadoop product, Factual tackles incomplete geo records, and Google embraces transparency by publishing and explaining the data requests it gets from governments.
It's unlikely IBM or Apache will lead the Java community.
Why did Mike Loukides leave IBM and Apache out of his recent piece, “Who leads the Java Parade?” Because — despite good reasons — they both opted out.
Jeopardy was fun, but Watson's practical applications are what's really interesting.
Aside from whipping the pants off two Jeapardy geniuses, the Watson computer is opening the door to new monetization possibilities for search.
What IBM's acquisition of Netezza means for enterprises.
Netezza sprinkled an appliance philosophy over a complex suite of technologies, making it easier for enterprises to get started. But the real reason for IBM's offer was that the company reset the price/performance equation for enterprise data analysis.
The real value of the Watson supercomputer will come from what it inspires.
While IBM's Watson supercomputer / Jeopardy contestant is a masterpiece of natural language processing, it's important to remember that it's just a learning tool that will help us solve more interesting problems.