Big Data – Exploring the Darkest Places on Earth

Newimage5A lot of folks know that I have done some interesting things in my life. From flying jets off aircraft carriers to running nuclear reactors on submarines  to building artificial brains in boxes in laboratories. All fun stuff, none of which I could have ever done without the help and support of very talented friends and team mates. So it doesn’t surprise me too much when someone asks me to talk about some of the scariest places I been. My response often confounds the asker in ways that can be profound. What is my response, you ask?

I have only one reply, “The scariest place I have ever been is THE darkest place on earth. It is the place of neither happiness or misery. Nor is it a place of neither rich or poor, or even right or wrong. This is a place where nothing exists but the absence of nothing. It is that place you find yourself in where you begin to realize just how much you don’t know you don’t know.”

NewImageUsually at about this point I see in their face the “oh man, I shouldn’t have ask” kind of look. You know the one I am talking about. It is that one that people give when they realize they want to be some place else, but need to stay and listen out of respect. That’s the look.

Being a nice guy I usually let them off the “listening hook” by saying they can alway stop by later to talk about this in more detail if they want. But, before they go, I add that, “my death opened a door to this dark place just once and that is a story worth telling.” After that their faces change from “I need to get out” to “I want to know more.” From which we talk about the philosophy of death’s role in helping us all better understand our true limits.

NewImageSo, why all this pontification around death, not knowing what we don’t know, life, the universe, and everything else? Because we are on the technological brink of being capable of systematically exploring this deep dark space in ways that where never possible just a few years ago. We are capable of discovering new endless opportunities by just looking through all that data (FaceBook, Twitter, CRM, etc.) we take for granted everyday. This is the world of Big Data and these profound outcomes are why this new capability is important to us all.

Ok, enough philosophy, for now. Back to the practical, technical, and business aspect of big data 🙂



Categories: Big Data

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