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The primary objective of big data technology is the extraction of recommendations based on a vast sample set. Sometimes all samples available are taken into consideration; in others, just a subset is used. Imagine a traffic engineer needs to analyze traffic patterns in a certain part of a city between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. Using traditional techniques, samples of routes taken by a few vehicles would be used to support planning for any prospective actions. But with big data, the routes taken by all vehicles can be analyzed. In statistics this is known as n=N. …


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The originally French word routine comes from the word route (meaning road). Literally, routine means the road normally taken, and, figuratively, it is the habit of doing something in the same way. So, both literally and figuratively, a routine is a repetitive behavior in our lives. This repetition — our habits — creates a structure within which we feel security and familiarity and can become automatic in our minds within just a few weeks. In 2006, researchers at Duke University reported that approximately 45% of our daily behavior is a repetition of some type.

In an age where we leave digital tracks wherever we go — which websites we visit; which e-commerce products we are interested in; which sports, movies, and shows we watch; what music style we listen to; which roads we travel on — more than ever, our habits can be watched, quantified, and measured. Smart cities, for example, can make use of traffic information to plan new roads, reverse the direction of certain streets at specific times, and reduce bottlenecks, thus decreasing pollution. Your Internet browsing sessions can be interrupted by ads geared specifically to you — for example, an ad for the world parachuting championships, based on a past purchase or a trip connected to parachuting locations you may have made. …


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In 1979, American historian Elizabeth Lewisohn Eisenstein (1923–2016) published a book titled The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. She proposes that its invention by German-born Johannes Gutenberg (1400–1468) in the fifteenth century created the necessary conditions for the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution — which, together with the First Industrial Revolution, could be considered as the origins of modern society. According to Eisenstein, between 1453 and 1503 approximately eight million books were printed — more than all the written material produced in the nearly 5,000 years of civilization up until then. And the speed at which more data is being created is mind-blowing: In the early 2020s, it is estimated that each one of us produced almost two megabytes of data — per second. …


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The volume of information created at any given moment, as we have previously discussed, continues to grow at a fast pace — and everything points to an ever-increasing speed. In the time it takes for you to read this article, more than 10 million searches will have been made with Google, about a million new tweets will have been published and almost one thousand hours of video will have been uploaded to YouTube. According to IBM, every single day more than 2.5 quintillions of bytes are produced — the equivalent of 2.5 million terabytes. …


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Non-stop data generation is without a doubt one of the greatest characteristics of the widely-connected and integrated world to which we are heading. According to estimates from Cisco, between 2017 and 2022 Internet data traffic is going to grow 26% per year — from 122 exabytes per month to nearly 400. It is estimated that, counting only mobile devices, data traffic will see a sevenfold increase by 2022, representing an annualized growth of 46%. Devices that communicate directly among themselves, with no human intervention — a modality known as machine to machine (or M2M), accounted for just over 6 billion connections in 2017, and by 2022 this number is set to exceed 14.5 billion. …


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Every four or six years, the General Conference on Weights and Measures (Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures, CGPM) takes place in Sèvres, about ten kilometers (six miles) from Paris. On this occasion, Member State delegates analyze all aspects of the metric system, present as it is in the daily lives of the majority of the world’s population (the only countries that do not officially use it are Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States). The first meeting took place in 1889, targeting only the meter and the kilogram. …


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Seventeenth-century England produced one of the greatest rivalries in the history of science, between Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke. The letters exchanged between the scientists are testimony that not even some of the brightest minds that have ever lived are immune to vanity and pettiness. The antagonism was so great that when Newton succeeded Hooke in the presidency of the Royal Society — one of the most traditional and respected societies for the advancement of science, founded in England at the end of 1660 — it is suspected that Newton ordered his predecessor’s only portrait to be removed from the wall of the institution. It was never found. …


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© WGBH Educational Foundation

The technological advancements that have taken place over the History of Civilization are closely linked to the discovery of new elements and materials. Entire industries have been created in the wake of these events, changing the destiny of societies. There are no shortage of examples: about five thousand years ago, humans began working with bronze; fifteen hundred years later, they incorporated glass-making to their skills. In third-century China, the use of cast iron took off; in the 8th century, it was the turn of porcelain; and the year 1000 brought about gunpowder. …


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Since the First Industrial Revolution, which began in the second half of the 18th century with the popularization of the steam engine, modern society has been simultaneously increasing its demand for energy and raising environmental pollution levels. Studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have shown a 40% increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the last 250 years, mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels. …


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A common scene at airports, offices, homes, and restaurants: users eagerly seeking outlets to charge their smartphones, notebooks or tablets. According to the research firm Markets and Markets, the portable battery market is expected to reach about $11 billion by 2020, growing by more than 17% per year between 2014 and 2020. We are constantly in need of more energy to stay connected and up to date.

In a 2016 report on the global energy scenario for the next 30 years, consulting firm McKinsey identified market trends pointing to a representative increase in demand for converting energy into electricity (and not into transportation fuels, for example) — a surge from 18% to 25%. As stated in the report, this additional energy will come mostly from wind and solar, modifying the global energy production matrix: renewable energy sources (excluding hydroelectric power) will account for approximately 35% of total generation, compared to about 5% only a handful of years ago. Polluting sources will experience a considerable reduction: coal, currently generating 41% of global energy, will decline to 16%, while fossil fuels will reach 38%, a significant change from the current 66%. …

About

Guy Perelmuter

Founder at GRIDS Capital, Twitter @guyperelmuter

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