by adam mathes
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Living In the Era of Infinite Computing

Yesterday I wrote about how technology at scale is itself a commodity.

So if scaled computing infrastructure and tools to use them are now commodities, what’s the complement that is becoming more valuable?

  1. collection of unique and gigantic data sets (big companiess, governments benefit)
  2. ability to do something compelling with data (data backed product innovation, data science, you should have paid more attention in statistics!)
  3. products and services that don’t rely on data (give up, go home)
  4. products and services that get worse with more data (left as an exercise to the reader)

More cynically, tracking, surveillance, or other means to continually gather and improve data sets, which is kind of terrifying.

Distribution was a critical capability – but distribution today is often just the free byproduct to a data gathering effort that makes that distribution profitable. Television and newspapers could sell access to an audience on distribution alone, they didn’t need the audience to ping back everything they did to the TV station to be stored for eternity.

As sensors and computation become cheaper, more ubiquitous and more embedded in more places, the owner and aggregation point for the data produced becomes more and more powerful.

I feel like I see a lot of people talking about consumer social media, user activity at scale and the matching ad tech behind it, but less so some of these others that seem a hell of a lot more important than targeting ads –

  • Insurance companies – health care usage and outcomes via claims, financial and claims data
  • Financial institutions – transactions, credit, asset changes at scale
  • Telcos – cellular data – as internet enabled devices and transportation adds networking they get tracking of vehicles, people, objects 247

…and of course

  • State-level actors – government intelligence agencies, surveillance at scale

Increasingly option (3) seems to a path worth looking at from my perspective.

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