InfoTech Circle


Information Technology Circle

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Computing


Computers of the past have operated in predictable environments using structured and uniform data to perform prescribed operations. Information was relatively confined to specific places, well-structured and limited in volume and variety. With the proliferation of mobile devices, online platforms, social networking and the Internet of Things we are datafying our world, turning ever more processes and activities into data. This creates a new type of data, what is called big data that comes in massive volumes, is unstructured, dynamic and heterogeneous. A tweet, a photo taken, an online purchase made, a barcode scanned, a web search, a flight taken, a video watched, an image tagged, all of these contain little traces of data that, when combined, can contain valuable insight. This unstructured big data is estimated at 80% of all data and gets the name “dark data” because it cannot be effectively processed by existing information systems.




Computing Environments


Whereas in the past the revolution in computing was looking inside the box of well-defined datasets the current stage in this process is about acting on heterogeneous data environments to make sense of the data from complex systems; to draw new insights about the world around us. This next generation of computer systems has to read and interpret vast amounts of unstructured data and use it to identify patterns, often in real-time. This requires new algorithmic approaches. These systems use information from many different sources to cross-correlate them and reason about the “meaning” in the data, creating a new kind of insight into complex systems that is currently beyond our capabilities. But for this revolution to be socially sustainable we need to shift the paradigm from closed data and black-box algorithms to open data and transparent rules.

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