Guilty. I’m learning about myself while I’m writing
If you are a bit like me, you are running a fervent controversy in your head against every smart-looking text. You are probably doing this right now, finding the arguments to catch me on missteps in my reasoning. Since it’s a play of your imagination, there is no real chance for me to fight you back. So, next time you will take me to the fantasy trial, there are some things that you need to consider. Things that I’m learning about myself while writing this.
Quoting a lot
My superpower is to find, process, and organize information. I know good questions. I’m seeing links where others don’t. I’m mastering my way to express the findings in the most digestible way (it’s a journey, and I’m not claiming I’m anywhere near the finish line). With all that, I respect the people who have actually created the initial content. If the answer is good, I would rather include it as it is with the link to the origin than struggle to find the better words: same, same, but different.
Oversimplifying a lot
This is indeed intentional. I believe the smartest thoughts are the simplest. There are few statements in the world that are undeniably true. The rest will be always living in the shadow of exceptions. Yes, but… Being aware of this, I’m simplifying a lot to emphasize some thoughts by deliberately ignoring the others.
Leaving out a lot
Isn’t it the purpose of this work? This is a brief summary of the Future. Not another report, but trends behind trends. Want the details? Check the links and read through all the reports (by the way, I highly recommend you to do this).
Enjoying any feedback
Next time those texts will spark any kind of dialogue in your mind, write your opinion in the comment box below. There is no sacral truth in the things I’m sharing. This is documented discovery — my way of thinking out loud. Ideas. And the only way to grow an idea is to have a good conversation about it.
The world is information, so here are couple more bytes to it
Everything is data
Somehow, this is a philosophical question. According to Wikipedia, thinking is a mental process that allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends, and desires. Simply speaking, no matter if the world around us is real or not, the only thing we can do about it is to think it through — to manipulate the information we are receiving from our sensory system.
Life is a set of events that could be described almost precisely. Who did what and where? What happened when and how? All that matters for us are delivered through one form of data or another. Every person is data: name, government id, date of birth, place of birth, last known location in the world, parents, knowledge, occupation, income, social connections. Every purchase is data: person, place, time and date, list of products or services, price, currency, the weather outside. Every consumer trend is data: e.g. X people doing Z, X is exponentially growing, and Z is something new.
Big Data is our ability to capture bigger parts of the world
Overall, Big Data is simple. It literally means more data. But the difference is huge! It’s not a faster horse anymore, it’s a Tesla car. Our ability to collect and process more data allows us to capture bigger chunks of the world in more detail. So, we could do more about it.
Imagine driving a car while your car is the only thing you can notice. It is problematic, is it? Still, many companies in the world are driving their business almost blindly. With more data, you can finally see the road itself, other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, the trees in the background. You can check your speed and align it with the speed limit sign, so you will not be thrown off when the road will make another curvy turn.
Zoom in and zoom out
Now we can put data in perspective. We can zoom in to a single stock-keeping unit or zoom out and follow a country’s sales through the decade. Follow a car for a year and you will find out about popular use cases and average mileage per day. Look closely to one crossroad and all cars and crowds passing by — you will get your renovation plan for the nearby streets.
A pattern is a regularity in the world, so the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner. By manipulating bigger data sets, we can see relationships between things like never before. Women of a certain age buy certain products more. Certain regions prefer certain colors of t-shirts. Certain DNA chains link with the fact that cilantro tastes like a bar of soap. We can find people who look alike with someone clicking on our ads in the past, with a so complex nature of “alike” that we don’t even know what it really means anymore.
While finding similarities could be useful, capturing differences was always crucial for our survival. This apple was green, and now it’s red. There was nothing, and here is a tiger. When a change forms a pattern, a trend is born. We’ve just learned how to read the future — predict what will happen next. This is the best superpower to have no matter if you are planning to win in a lottery or avoid a weighty brick falling from a roof.
Data is crucial. It’s our way to see the world. It’s the only way to learn where it’s rolling. We will be always craving more information, to capture the change or to drive it. So, where are the trends, there will be data. And where is the data, there will be trends.
AI is a tool to formalize new types of data as well as to analyze data better
Big data requires a big mind. While humans are very good at cognition, our processing capacity is limited. This is where AI steps into the game. Tech innovations and new learning algorithms allow building systems that are greater than us in specific tasks. 500 hours of videos are uploaded on YouTube every minute. Imagine yourself watching all this in order to capture explicit or licensed content. So, what can AI do better?
Recognize, so formalize
In order to manipulate data, we need to formalize it first. Take the explicit content example. Is this man swearing or his dog sneezing? Boobs or birthday balloons? Easy? For you. It was a journey, but now machines can recognize this too, as well as a lot of other things. Don’t worry. I’m sure you are still bitting robots in the boats, bicycles, and crossroads exercise. But be ready. Tesla could pass the bicycle test too (absolutely not saying it is reading your emails). Aside from smart doorbells and voice-text memos, this helps us to formalize art galleries and fuels the whole industry of virtual assistants.
Thinking takes time. Skimming through a big chunk of data takes big time. One lifetime is not enough to go through e-commerce signals properly captured on a popular platform in one day. Good queries could solve half of the issue. What if you don’t know what you are looking for? AI could process data quickly, revealing patterns and noticing trends, so you don’t have to.
Create more data
It’s obvious that AI could come in handy when it comes to working with existing information. Can it create something? New text? New art? New ideas? Yes, it is. A creative act is a process of applying artistic skills towards an intention. We’ve learned everything we do and everything we know. We’ve practiced a lot, so started to separate the good from the bad. If it can be formalized, it can be processed and acquired by machine as well. Evaluation could take a while to learn and require some help. Most probably, the intention will stay with us. Responsibility for the consequences is remaining a philosophical question.