This Much I Know: Kenneth Cukier, The Economist on machine learning & big data

Big data, argues Kenneth Cukier, senior editor for data and digital at The Economist, is epoch defining: the ability for humans to store and transmit information at a scale previously inconceivable will transform ‘how we work, live and think’ – much as fire, bronze and the paper press revolutionised earlier societies. But how should we respond to the economic dislocation AI will produce in conjunction with big data?

Kenneth’s career in journalism is a distinguished one. The co-author of the New York Times Best Seller “Big Data” (2013)  he manages new digital product development and oversees data analytics for The Economist. Prior to this, Kenneth served as technology editor of the Wall Street Journal Asia and also worked at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. In 2002-04 he was a research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Speaking with Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Kenneth claims that information has gone from ‘a stock to flow’. Instead of being stored in fixed media – such as clay discs 4,000 years ago – data is now liquid and dynamic. The application of machine learning techniques and algorithms to such data lets us do things once impossible, such as build self-driving cars or diagnose diseases at a far earlier stage. But, he cautions, ‘it is the mark of an unwise society’ and close to criminal that we are not properly sharing data in spheres such as healthcare.

Listen to understand how we can learn from the information we collect, what change needs to materialise before we feel AI’s effect in proper, and how to respond to the job displacement that AI will bring about.

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