Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Chasing Future Meaning

The massive volume of new data surrounding us is growing at an extraordinary rate.  This data plus its meaning and the the value it offers will inform the winners and losers of tomorrow.

It's not that individual bits of data have such great value on their own, rather it's the combinations of data from different sources, and their combined meaning that is golden.  The challenge of course is finding and combining all the data sources and their meanings into something really useful, and trusted.  

Often we can find data, but we don't know its accuracy, source or trustworthiness.  We also don't often have a lot of time to find, combine and refine the data sources and their combined meaning.  We need blockchain like processes that can include the source of data, its meaning and how it can be combined with other sources to reveal new insights.

This week my wife and I are closely watching several forest fires that have ignited in the mountains we are planning to backpack into.  To understand our risk, there are many things we must know:
  • How big is the fire?
  • When will it be contained?
  • What is the weather forecast? 
  • How hot and dry will it be?
  • What direction is the wind blowing the smoke and fire?
  • What is the geology around the fire?
  • What is the vegetation around the fire?
  • What are the roads and access points to and from the trail systems?
  • What are our alternative escape routes if our primary routes are jeopardized? 
Finding the answer to just one of the above questions is not enough.  It is the combination of these data points that are needed to fully understand our risk, and to make a prudent decision about our routes and plans.  

Today, we have limited sources of information, but in the future the challenge will not be a lack of data.  The challenge will be identifying combinations of data sources where trusted meaning-chains exist. Finding this is very difficult and expensive for us humans to accomplish consistently and efficiently.

I look forward to a time when artificial intelligence systems and machine learning can analyze and find thousands of different trusted data sources that when combined create new and unique value.  I am impatiently waiting.

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.