One of the jobs of the researchers at JLA is to stay on top of the latest trends and find the most relevant guest speakers to reflect them. Sometimes it’s a one off national event that sparks a short-term debate. Sometimes it’s part of an ongoing narrative in business such as the art of Leadership, Change Management or overcoming adversity in the markets. Sometimes a new issue surfaces and sticks around; one that seems to pervade all areas of business and wider society. Big Data is the appropriately vague name given to the massive growth and volume of digitally stored data that has become available to us over recent years. Better and more widespread access to mobile and high speed internet in all parts of the world have contributed to this and dramatically increased the number of transactions taking place. Not only is there a lot of data to process, it has huge variety and complexity and is increasing at an exponential rate. Indeed, as recently as fifteen years ago, the proportion of all the world’s informationstored online was around 25%. Today, non-digitally stored information is down toas little as 1%. Our ability to collect and store this data is also improving, but the questions remains: how do we sort it into some kind of useful structure and what does it all mean? The internet is helping us measure and use this data in ways that the layman might experience every day – trends in social media and targeted online advertising might be two examples – but what else is Big Data helping us to do? Here are some of the guest speakers talking to JLA audiences about Big Data:
Guest Speakers on Big Data: Ken Cukier
Ken is the Data Editor of The Economist and author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. His book balances the potential and opportunity of putting our faith in data with its logical pitfalls: a loss of privacy and temptation to penalize people for future mistakes based on previous data patterns.
Guest Speakers on Big Data: Simon Moores
As Vice Chairman of the Conservative Technology Forum, Simon advises government on what its approach to advancements in digital technology – including big data – should be. Simon looks at the kinds of things data shared from the private sector could inform the government on, such as changes in demographics over time or the real-time progression of disease outbreaks.
Guest Speakers on Big Data: Tim Harford
Tim is an award-winning behavioural economist and Financial Times columnist. Whilst he recognises the opportunities that data can offer, Tim is sceptical of ignoring human insight and age-old statistical lessons in favour of simply relying
on the numbers. In his talks, he uses real life examples to highlight areas in which supposedly infallible data sets have led to misleading and sometimes embarrassing results.
Guest Speakers on Big Data: Nate Silver
Famous for correctly predicting the results of the 2008 presidential winner in 49 US states, Nate runs the award-winning political forecasting website FiveThirtyEight.com. Like Tim Harford, Nate recognizes our growing dependence on data-based predictions in a variety of fields and asks what data we can and cannot trust.
Guest Speakers on Big Data: David McCandless
David defines himself as a ‘data journalist.’ His book, Information is Beautiful, turns complex data sets into beautiful visual representations, finding previously unseen patterns and connections. Favourite examples include a complete Dance music and The Most Edited Wikipedia Pages.