Beth Schultz

Big-Data Meltdown & 7 Other 2013 Predictions

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Lyndon_Henry
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Krugman weighs in on Big-Data future
Lyndon_Henry   12/26/2012 5:35:10 PM
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..

As long as we're on the subject of forecasts for the future, I thought this was as good a thread as any to comment on economist Paul Krugman's musings about Big Data, Analytics, and robots in today's New York Times:

Is Growth Over?

Some highlights...

Krugman focuses on the issue of the so-called Industrial Revolution 3 (IR #3), described as "computers, the web, mobile phones" and lasting "from 1960 to present."  Krugman takes issue with the suggestion "that IR #3 has already mostly run its course, that all our mobile devices and all that are new and fun but not that fundamental."  While he says it's "good to have someone questioning the tech euphoria...", Krugman says he's "pretty sure" that "the IT revolution has only begun to have its impact."

Krugman speculates


Consider for a moment a sort of fantasy technology scenario, in which we could produce intelligent robots able to do everything a person can do. Clearly, such a technology would remove all limits on per capita GDP, as long as you don't count robots among the capitas. All you need to do is keep raising the ratio of robots to humans, and you get whatever GDP you want.

Now, that's not happening — and in fact, as I understand it, not that much progress has been made in producing machines that think the way we do. But it turns out that there are other ways of producing very smart machines. In particular, Big Data — the use of huge databases of things like spoken conversations — apparently makes it possible for machines to perform tasks that even a few years ago were really only possible for people. Speech recognition is still imperfect, but vastly better than it was and improving rapidly, not because we've managed to emulate human understanding but because we've found data-intensive ways of interpreting speech in a very non-human way.

And this means that in a sense we are moving toward something like my intelligent-robots world; many, many tasks are becoming machine-friendly. This in turn means that Gordon is probably wrong about diminishing returns to technology.


 

However, Krugman warns, the longterm outlook for the great mass of us is not necessarily so rosy:


Ah, you ask, but what about the people? Very good question. Smart machines may make higher GDP possible, but also reduce the demand for people — including smart people. So we could be looking at a society that grows ever richer, but in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots.


 

Brrr....

 

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: On the lookout for falling axes
Lyndon_Henry   12/16/2012 5:21:12 PM
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..

Beth writes

There are a ton of "big-data startups to watch" type of lists out there. Here's one from VentureBeat, for example.

Thanks very much for the link.  I shoulda figured a lot of the startups involve apps...

 

Louis Watson
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Re: fallout
Louis Watson   12/16/2012 2:00:23 AM
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@Alexis   Sort of like the cycle of Life.  : )

Alexis
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Re: fallout
Alexis   12/14/2012 8:18:29 PM
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And for every few startups that close, a new one will emerge.

philsimon
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fallout
philsimon   12/14/2012 7:57:23 PM
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Of course startups will close. People forget that there used to be more than 2,000 auto comapnies.


It's an inevitable part of any new trend or technology.

BethSchultz
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Re: On the lookout for falling axes
BethSchultz   12/13/2012 10:53:50 PM
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@Lyndon, I think the answer is "all of the above." Big-data being the trendy term that it is, we see entrepreneurs of all sorts latching onto the phrase -- be they purveyors of goods and services or companies using big-data themselves to create a marketplace differentiation. There are a ton of "big-data startups to watch" type of lists out there. Here's one from VentureBeat, for example.

SethBreedlove
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Re: On the lookout for falling axes
SethBreedlove   12/13/2012 10:52:14 PM
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I agree with all these predictions, especially the close down of many startups.  I've had the priviledge to be a guest at a few angel investor meetings, (despite that I don't have a few hundred grand to invest ) and have seen so many "me to"s (What is the plural of "me to"? tos, toses? ) And I often think that they are too late into the game and nothing to differentiate themselves from existing players. 

However, I read in the paper today that technical companies were leasing space in San Francisco is on the rise. San Francisco tech leases surging, again - The Business Journals.  So maybe they know something I don't.

@ Lyndon Henry -  I can't say for sure what are the startups are, but the ones I'm encountering appear to deal with mobile advertising and conversion.  The ones I think that stand the best chance are the ones that are cashing in on the sharing economy, i.e. renting out your own car or parking space. 

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: On the lookout for falling axes
Lyndon_Henry   12/13/2012 9:42:04 PM
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..

Beth writes


 

...he said he's heard that 360 such companies launched in the past year...


 

Good grief! That's just about one a day in this fairly narrow niche business area.  Reminiscent of the Dot-Com debacle of the late 1990s...

 

And also writes


With the shutdown of big-data startups anticipated for the year ahead, will anybody find themselves in the lurch regarding big-data projects?


 

This question isn't relevant to me at the moment, but I am curious — what are these startups?  Consulting firms?  Software firms?  Hardware firms?  Other?  All of the above? 

I wonder if there's any percentage breakdown of this seemingly frenzied dash into a pursuit that appears to have a rather high mortality rate...

 

BethSchultz
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On the lookout for falling axes
BethSchultz   12/13/2012 5:49:02 PM
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With the shutdown of big-data startups anticipated for the year ahead, will anybody find themselves in the lurch regarding big-data projects? In other words, any experimentation with startups going on out there?

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