Can you imagine an astrophysicist with a severe OCD trying to catalog stars by their types by just looking up at the sky? Maddening. Not that they don’t do it, but thanks to Technology and years of studying they do have some tools that ancient greeks or Mayans could only imagine. It has never been about the tools but rather something far more telling: the Data.
We were there when things like a watch that can tell you how much you run was just a good laugh. We also remember (most of us that’s not a Milennial in any case) when TVs were heavy and huge, and there are some who still remember a time when there was no TV at all. Can you imagine that now? All of it, the entirety of our last 100 (years just to pick an intense period of in our late history) of technological and sociopolitical history, affected by our evolution? All of that may fit into one hard drive now. All of it is Data which when packed into something solid and small like a hard drive…doesn’t look so big, does it?
We are living in what we could call our own Age of Wonders, when even knowledge can be reduced to binary but there can be so many 0s and 1s in the world, right? Lets go hexadecimal if you want but we would still not get big enough.
That’s a very honest question for Big Data people. How big is really big? Of course, in the age we live when not just humans but the very machines we created produce, crop, setup and store data themselves, data keeps growing and getting bigger but I keep thinking that even if we would need Google’s Data Center network to store all of our knowledge…you put all those servers one on top of the other and they wouldn’t reach higher than Mount Everest, and they wouldn’t look half as impressive either.
But what about practical applications? Think big, really big, as in: how do we fight inequality or hunger? How do we stop madness that comes with wars? How do we prepare or maybe one day even stop natural disasters? How do we recycle energy from the Elements? What is the answer to every religious and metaphysics question every asked? When will the world be unified rather than than split by race, creed or opinion?
After the second question you might have rolled your eyes. Why? I keep asking that myself. These questions we’ve all asked ourselves and maybe even other people, but why can’t we answer any of them? Why can’t you or anyone else answer them? Do not get me wrong, we all have an answer to any of them…but is your answer definitive over any other given answer to the same question throughout our history?
Data will never be that big if it’s not good enough to answer questions such as these. Data will not feed people, but one day it might help us do so. We just need more.