Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe
marypcb

Too much data, not enough thinking?

We have plenty of data to work with and systems that can process enormous data sets. But some of the biggest successes - say, Google - are doing the processing based on pre-computing algorithms and work done with pen, paper and thinking cap. The Rev. Bayes reaches a very wide congregation today. As the Harvard Business Review puts it, "done in the absence of high-speed, low-cost computational capacity, that work put a premium on imaginative quantitative thinking". It's not just vintage idea though; Tesco is using simulated annealing, Nokia is using genetic algorithms - I learned both of those in the 1980s when they were only a decade old, if that.

But I found myself worrying; with all the pressure on academe to work well with business and have more immediate goals, will we have enough blue sky research going on to give us well-thought out algorithms to implement in the next generation of even higher performance computing? Any excuse to slow down and think more has to be good!

There's another 19 thought-provoking points in the HBR List of breakthrough ideas for 2007
Tags: harvard business review, links, rant, technology
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