Big Data Week 2016: Forget Big Data, Artificial Intelligence is the new kid on the block

Richard Benjamins    25 October, 2016
Yesterday, the LUCA team attended the first day of Big Data Week. BDW is a global community that organizes an annual event focusing on the social, political, and technological impacts of data, with events taking place during the same week in 9 cities around the world.  Same day, Big Data Week Madrid (#bdwmadrid) kicked off, with the Barcelona edition set to take place tomorrow (October 26th). This is the 4th edition of the Big Data Week, and the 3rd held in Spain, which is organized by Synergic Partners.

Big Data week
Figure 1: LUCA attends #BDW16 in Madrid and Barcelona this week

Carme Artigas, the CEO and Founder of Synergic Partners, opened up by mentioning that it is more than 10 years since O’Reilly’s Roger Magoulas coined the term “Big Data” in 2005. Roger himself also attended, explaining that 11 years later, Big Data is everywhere; in the press, on TV and there are hundreds of events on the topic. Yet the term Big Data has disappeared from Gartner’s Hype Cycle of 2015 due to it no longer being an emerging technology.

Carme Artigas
Figure 2: Carme Artigas kicks off Big Data Week Madrid

In contrast to other technologies, Big Data has transformed from an emerging to mainstream technology in record time and the new kid on the block is Artificial Intelligence. Google acquired AI startup Deepmind in 2014, a company that built the first general learning system that can learn directly from experience. Their system learned to be an expert Atari player just by experimenting with the game. The same startup’s AlphaGo program defeated in March this year one of the best GO players in the world. 
Like Big Data some years ago, Artificial Intelligence is now everywhere, and there are predictions that AI will make many jobs obsolete in the future, including that of Data Scientists. Some people are already talking about “stealing” AIs and now that AI is becoming more sophisticated, ethical discussions also start, like Stephen Hawking’s “AI could spell end of the human race“.  
Roger Magoulas also mentioned FATML: Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning, something which is expected to become very important as machines increasingly take more decisions away from people. After all, who can explain how deep learning algorithms come to their conclusions?

Apart from these ethical discussions, there were pragmatic and promising presentations discussing how Big Data can be used for Social Good. As it turns out, a wide range of data sources (as you can see below) can contribute significantly to monitoring and progressing on the UN’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030.

Big Data for Social Good
Figure 3: Big Data for Social Good Use Cases

Tomorrow we’ll be attending the Barcelona version of the event and LUCA’s Strategic Marketing Manager, Florence Broderick, will be attending to expand on Big Data for Social Good and how mobile phone data can bring value to this very cause.  Follow the conversation online at #bdw16.

Figure 4: Big Data Week video

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