Monday, April 16, 2018

“Data is the new oil.” - Clive Humby

Clive Humby, the world renowned Data Innovator, once said – “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.

As another wave of Industrial Revolution, the so called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ unfolds right before our eyes, albeit at different intensities and speeds in the developed and developing parts of the world, it is absolutely thrilling to not only witness the data driven changes but to be a part of it – Like photons and neutrinos of the cosmic world interacting seamlessly with all forms of matter, we see data touching our lives and impacting every moment of it. Indeed this very ubiquity of data, and myriad forms in which it is being analyzed and presented – makes Data Science, such a fascinating subject to study.

Data Science is not just a technical buzzword or another specialist domain relegated to classrooms of Computer Science and Information Technology courses ; but a process live and happening throughout the world , cutting across subject domains , geographical barriers , education divides etc – from the farmer banking on organized data-sets , rich visualizations to predict sowing and harvesting timings according to anticipation of atmospheric moisture and local weather patterns , to the scientists exploring the mysteries of the ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Gravitational Waves’ – the sheer width and depth of data churning from the ivory towers to the common streets , makes this subject beautifully inter-disciplinary in nature.

Just like the oil polity and oil economics, we have a data polity outlining and shaping, national and international policies around data privacy, transparency, autonomy, rights , consent and violation principles ; we have a data driven economic world – the hype around ‘Crypto-Currencies’ and the associated ‘Shared Public Ledger Technology’ ; data and big-data analytics throwing up new insights, patterns and relatedness among factors that previously didn’t seem to exist ; be it the latest data driven innovations in Machine Learning , Robotics , Artificial Intelligence ; ‘Precision Medicine’ customized to individual needs; faster, efficient, more accurate diagnostics techniques saving billions of lives all around the world ; be it data-driven climate models helping understand the vagaries of climate change and weather fluctuations all around the world, thereby helping in disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts ; be it better education and health policies  or the charm of ‘Nudge Units’/’Functional Behavioral Economics’ allowing for innovative , constructive innovations to be applied in several multi-dimensional ways – the world has certainly arrived at a stage where data is indeed omnipresent.
Like any new innovation, data science too would have it’s share of supporters and criticizers. But one thing is for sure , love it or hate it , you simply can’t ignore it. The webs of data science are spread far and wide. It is this data revolution that is shaping and actively modifying, not only the inanimate external world , but also the biological, psychological, living world of animals and humans. Researchers are predicting that the world in the age of Fourth Industrial Revolution , revolving around ‘Internet of Things and Internet of Everything’ , ‘3-D Printing , Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing’ , ‘Robotics, Artificial Intelligence’ , ‘Quantum Computing , Super Computing and Green Computing’ woven around the lynchpin of Data Science and Big Data Analytics – would surely affect branches of science like Neuro-Science , Brain-Mapping , Computational Linguistics , Psychological constructs of Perception, Visual Reality and Augmented Realty etc in unique fascinating ways. So can it be any wrong to say that such a self-adapting , dynamic , ubiquitous science of ‘Data Science’ is an organismic entity on it’s own. Just like the human civilization adapts to changing realities of time-space and adapts continuously , like an ever evolving specie, so will evolve the science of Data Science.             

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