That giant sifting sound: A short history of big data
Professor, Annenberg School of Communications & Journalism, University of Southern California
The era of big data presents incredible opportunities -- smarter cities, stronger companies, faster medicine -- but just as many challenges. Storage is scarce, systems overloaded, governments and businesses know too much. The world now contains unimaginably vast amounts of digital information, which is growing exponentially. Managed well, this data can be used to engineer new engines of economic value, unlock scientific breakthroughs, and hold politicians accountable. Managed poorly, it can cause great harm.
The financial crisis showed that complex models that analyze large quantities of data do not always reflect financial risk in the real world. The financial crisis was sparked by big data -- and there will be others. But the data deluge will also generate millions of new ideas for how to solve big problems, build new markets, and expand existing ones. Ideas Economy: Information is a fresh look at knowledge management for the information age.
The Economist will bring together theorists, strategists, and innovators who understand how to harness data to create value and advance individual, corporate, and social good. We will sift through the vast quantities of current thinking on data to uncover the best ways forward. And we will apply the lessons of the Ideas Economy, about innovation, human capital, and intelligent infrastructure, to uncover new sources of growth and accelerate human progress across the globe.
Martin Hilbert pursues a multidisciplinary approach to understand the role of information, communication and knowledge in society. He is particularly interested in the implications of and requisites for the digitization of information in complex social systems. He has published several books and peer-reviewed journal articles in the fields of communication, public policy, economic development, political science, forecasting and social change. He has provided hands-on technical assistance to heads of states, government officials, legislators, diplomats, and private sector and civil society organizations in 30 countries, with a focus on Latin America. Policy makers at the highest political levels have officially recognized the impact of these projects in public declarations. He holds a permanent appointment as Economic Affairs Officer of the United Nations and has recently joined the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Hilbert's work has been featured in Science, Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, BBC, Sueddeutsche, Correio Braziliense, La Repubblica, El Pais, among others.