by Stephen Downes
Jun 21, 2016
I'm getting tired of reading that we're living in a changing world (or as O'Reilly has it, "volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous"). I think we all know that things are changing. It's nothing Toffler didn't see 40 years ago. I'm far more interested in promoting the changes we want and reshaping the changes we don't. For example, do we really want a caste system, as suggested by Google's Schmidt and Cohen? No? Then what are we going to do about it? I admit that I'm an utter failure as a manifesto writer, but at least I try (a Cyberspace Charter of Rights, The People's Manifesto). I don't expect we'll all come together on a vision for the future. But I think we can commit to working against a dystopia, can't we? Rather than simply embracing it as do the technocrats?
Bryan Alexander offers a lukewarm review for this forward-looking book by Google's Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt, The New Digital Age. In a way, he says, the book is more about politics than technology. "Put Google and the Department of State together and you have a glimpse of emerging and aspirational American hyperpower: confident, thoroughly global, combining virtual technology with soft and very hard power," he writes. "Or that’s the vision offered by these two authors." Alexander also cites Julian Assange, who writes that the book is "is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism." He continues, "This book is a balefully seminal work in which neither author has the language to see, much less to express, the titanic centralizing evil they are constructing."
I'm linking to this mostly so I have a reference to the image, which is the latest landscape for big data. If you're working in data and analytics you're working in a very crowded field. Specialized Big Data applications have been popping up in pretty much any vertical, from healthcare (notably in genomics and drug research) to finance to fashion to law enforcement (watch Scott Crouch, CEO of Mark43 here).
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