Data, Data, Data!


Once Upon a Time…

After a big meal at Xmas

computer: Given your heart condition and age your risk of heart attack has now increased from 1 to 5% and is estimated to increase to 10% in 2 weeks continuing at this rate. Your Family doctor has been noticed.

person: f*k, why, how?

computer: excessive ingestion of foods with fat and cholesterol leads to increased risks. Your meals for these past weeks have contributed to that. It was about the same last year on this Xmas season. And is a quite common across the world for most people.

person: what now?

computer: Recommend better nutrition. I estimate that ideal diet with exercise can reduce the risk close to 1% in about 2-3 weeks. Should i create a recovery plan?

person: yes

computer: and order food from local shop?

person: yes

computer: and book gym time?

person: oh god, have to go to gym? I hate gym

computer: for faster recovery physical activity is recommended. Without it, i estimate recovery will take longer, but if you prefer, in the next few week there will be in your area: a wilderness day and a walking activity.

person: Yes, lets do that instead.

computer: ok, you are signed up for them. I will also be guiding your meals and sport activity for the next weeks.

person: thanks

A few weeks after at the workplace

computer: Your heart attack risk has decreased to close to 1%. Recover plan has been successful, you are now back to normal healthy levels.

person: Whohoo!

computer: Do note that your sugar levels are presently low so your intellectual productivity is estimated bellow 40%, recommend stop for the day and go get some food.

person: ok thanks, but one last thing, you mentioned that the increased health risks around Xmas season is a common problem ?

computer: yes, a world wide problem in fact. Do you want to get the full report?

person: No. just wondering if we can do something about it… Can you run some simulations?

computer: yes

person: For example, what are the impacts of a campaign on tv about the health risks just before the Xmas season…

computer: Simulation estimates that it would improve global health 2% and reduce global hospital costs about 3% for the next year.

person: How about a Santa visit to schools including a nutrition lecture? Or school teachers nutrition training? Or a new tv cartoon themed around healthy food? Or a reduction on healthy foods tax for this season? Or an increase in unhealthy food tax for this season? Or any mix of these… Run the simulations on the impacts.

computer: done.

person: ok, please generate an action plan and forward it to all members of the assembly for voting.

computer: will do Governor

all lived happily ever after… the End

Data, Data, Data!

See where this is going? data, data, data! that contributes to improve our lives In health, government, business, education, etc…

In the truly data driven future:

All data will be collected automatically, by the devices around us, all new data is automatically linked with existing one and made available to be used by everyone, everywhere.

Many data aware systems will exist and constantly improve themselves: correlating, mix and matching data, inferring and generating new knowledge by using the newly generated data that keeps on springing all around us.

There will be data available about each person, each government, each household, each company, each car, each food, each animal, each school, each computer… essentially everything and it will be collected all the time(almost in real time) by all kinds of gadgets.

With this information we will be able to have computers that can quickly see where a specific trend is going and suggest real time actions to ensure optimal effects.


Might sound scary all this personal data floating around, what if it gets used in a wrong way? guess what… data aware systems everywhere will itself prevent fraud and misuse of information: any kind of bias, discrimination is immediately picked up and identified.

Also I’d argue further that this won’t actually happen because in a very data driven education any wrong influences are quickly identified and corrected early in education process. Thus the tendency is that among the grown ups the amount of wrong doers will be very small.

Data Sharing & Semantic Web

How we go about it? To start with, the data sharing part is key and is currently under-developed (or just not wide spread yet). The usual approach nowadays is to collect everything into 1 gigantic private silo and then use that.

We need to get to the point where all new generated data is available, linked and automatically understood by all other data systems, so we need a lingua franca for data formats and data sharing that everybody talks and understands.

So, as a practical 1st step, introducing the “Semantic Web” by Tim Berners-Lee:

A web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines. @wikipedia

The Semantic Web will make this (data sharing) possible, by providing an open format for the representation and exchange of knowledge and expertise. @lifeboat

The Semantic Web changes the economics of processing knowledge. @lifeboat

A start. And in fact, the image at the top of this post is a diagram of the already existing semantic webs. @lod_cloud

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