Big data and development: "The second half of the chess board"

From AfricaCan End Poverty Wed Feb 6 2013, 16:06:56

Do you think Fortune 500 CEOs care about Africa? In the past, frankly, with the exception of oil and gas giants, they didn't. But this is changing... and fast.

This week, IBM is opening its Africa innovation hub in Nairobi. To demonstrate the significance of the occasion, IBM has brought along all its senior team, led by CEO Ginni Rometty (named #1 most powerful woman in business by Forbes in 2012). Like other ICT companies, IBM wants to ride the wave of Africa's ICT revolution. In this area, Africa has not only been catching up with the West, but is in fact overtaking it in areas such as mobile money.

This important engagement comes at a time when many anticipate a global tipping point in computing and knowledge generation. A new wave of innovations, they argue, can come about for two reasons. First, the availability of data is rising exponentially. Data volume, velocity and variety are growing at an astounding rate. Today, 90 percent of the world's data is only two years old. While most of it is unstructured and difficult to search, efforts underway - including through 'Open Data' initiatives - will facilitate reusing and repurposing of previously hidden data.

Second, we are entering a new era of computing. "Super-Computers" are being set-up everywhere (including one in Nairobi), which can process an unimaginable amount of data. More importantly, qualitative breakthroughs should soon allow us to use computers to model the behavior of the human brain. This is also called "cognitive computing", allowing systems to learn, adapt, and ultimately hypothesize and suggest answers. [view whole blog post ]

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