As attributed to Freud, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. When it comes to the future of data as explored by Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson, and Intel General Manager Compute Continuum Peter Biddle, sometimes a fire hydrant signifies more than a fire hydrant.
CES 2012 is over, the major news stories filed (see Ultrabook(TM) inspired by Intel), but there in the margins are still a few un- or underreported items. And with the item in question being futurism, well, the “past due” date is a bit longer.
The Intel Futurist-led chats with thought leaders on the Intel stage at CES included one with Biddle on the future of data. Take an innocuous object, like a fire hydrant in New York City. Five years from now, Biddle projected, there would be a terabyte of data associated with it. “Some public, some private, on different databases. In a popular place like New York City a fire hydrant will be mapped in so many places to the millimeter, 3D representations.”
The fire hydrant pointed to changes in data today at the macro and subatomic levels. “The Higgs Particle maybe has already been observed, the search for habitable life may have been discovered, but we haven’t combed the available data yet.” (The elusive Higgs particle, considered essential in our understanding of the universe, was possibly discovered this past December, pending an additional year’s worth of data analysis from the Hadron Collider in Geneva.)
The challenge is finding that one fire hydrant in a sea of data, forcing us to think differently about how we conceptualize. The future of data, according to Biddle, will be in its contextual relevance, AKA curation. “Who will be your partner in sorting the data in a form you trust? Wouldn’t it be cool if for every square foot you have a DNS (Domain Name System, the hierarchical naming system for computers) for location?” The need will be for some currency to say “this is good/this is bad.” Ultimately, it will be a dynamic mix of social elements and math-driven computational power through which the future of data will enrich our lives.
Brian David Johnson and Peter Biddle continued their conversation offstage, and the video has just been posted here. And, in another new video, the futurist talks with his Intel Labs boss: Director, Interaction and Experience Research, Genevieve Bell, on the secret life of data. Can data be treated like people?
Lastly, I had the chance to talk offstage with the Intel Futurist about how his 2010 book “Screen Future” foreshadowed Ultrabook, the outcome of the Tomorrow Project Seattle Anthology, where new Tomorrow Projects will take him in 2012, and, of course, what markers about the future he saw at CES. That interview is here.
Each video is less than five minutes.