Artificial Intelligence & Big Data: Potential, Promise and Peril

Scientia potentia est (Knowledge is power)
— Francis Bacon

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the implications of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. Will a superintelligence enslave the planet? Do ‘they’ already know everything about me? Will we all be turned into batteries that fuel the Matrix? As I will explain in future posts, the short answers are No, No, and Hell No (I know, it was just a movie – but an amoral superintelligence that can’t come up with a more efficient, reliable, or lower maintenance power source? Really? Couldn’t they have kept the same plot by turning people into wetware CPUs? I’m just saying…).

This is the first in a series with a twofold goal: First, to expose the fearmongering that has come to pervade the public conversation around AI and Big Data for what it really is – while at the same time letting you in on some aspects of this work that really should be keeping you awake at night. Second, to make the brilliant, beautiful, and world-changing ideas that are at the heart of this exciting new science accessible to everyone; not just my fellow geeks, but the business leaders, policy makers and citizenry it is truly intended to serve.

Why Me?

Nearly every day for the past two decades, I’ve had the great privilege of leading teams in developing cutting-edge AI, Machine Learning, Data Science and Cyber-Psychology solutions that have met a vast range of opportunities and challenges. My alpha-geeks and I have served Fortune 500 companies, Healthcare, Retail and Finance Institutions, US Intelligence, Defense, and Security Agencies, and the President of the United States. We have hunted terrorists, interdicted criminal networks, reinvented digital marketing, and earned corporations a collective one billion dollars (!) in additional revenue. When it comes to real-world applications of AI and its computational cousins, we’ve pretty much seen it all – which brings me to my meta-goal for this series:

To get these game-changing capabilities out of the lab and into the hands of the small- and mid-cap companies that are increasingly being left on the wrong side of the Corporate Data Divide by those fortunate few in the Fortune 500 who have been profiting from the incontestable advantages Big Data brings to understanding, predicting, and influencing customers, employees, operations, and opportunities.

What’s Next?

In the weeks and months to come, I’ll be writing about real-world applications of Big Data Analysis and AI that I hope you’ll care about; ways to find new customers, sell more stuff, select better employees, diagnose disease, and read the mind of the market. While keeping the math to a middle-school level, we’ll explore the promise of predictive analytics; recommender systems that know more about you than you know about yourself; and uncannily accurate organizational simulations and social media analyses that let you know who will do what, when, where, and why, well before they do it. We’ll also be spending some time on the dark side; talking about the promise, perils and imminent threats of AI, Cyber-Snooping, The Privacy Myth, Algorithmic Morality, Hacktivism, Ransomware – and a world that will, very soon, be very different from the one we’re living in now.

My Hope

My fondest hope is that we can turn this into more of a conversation than a simple presentation. I am a peripatetic professor presently wandering the cyber-realm – and these are the topics I’m passionate about. So, I’m hoping you won’t just passively read these posts (though I’ll certainly settle for that – and the occasional thumbs up, if you please); I’m hoping instead that at least some of you will join in and send me your questions, your concerns, and not-so-subtle nudges to discuss the topics you would like to know more about. I’m sure the kids in the back of the room will benefit too, if you do – and hopefully, we can have a bit of fun together as you force me to occasionally go back to the (e)books, review the latest research – and tell you what I can about those parts of my past-life working with the intel community (at least those parts that don’t cause the powers-that-be to send black helicopters to my house to shoot my dog; I’ve lost more damn dogs that way….).

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this first post. Between now and the next, I hope you’ll share your thoughts, suggestions and concerns with me at: JT@AppliedAI.Tech