Photographer & Big Data Expert
Rick Smolan is a former Time, Life and National Geographic photographer best known as the creator of the Day in the Life book series – the bestselling photo books that captured life in America, Japan, Australia, the Soviet Union and other countries in the '80s – as well as America 24/7. Read More >
The Helpfulness of Big Data
The Human Face of Big Data
With the rapid growth of Internet-connected devices and sensors, an unstoppable, invisible force has begun changing human behavior in ways from the microscopic to the gargantuan. Billions of interconnected devices are generating tremendous amounts of "Big Data", a word that was barely used a few years ago but which now affects almost every aspect of our lives, from the moment we first awaken to the extinguishing of the final late-evening light bulb. Read More >
In his evocative talk, #1 New York Times best-selling author and journalist Rick Smolan puts a human face on the worlds of Big Data and the emerging Internet of Things. His visually rich talk (Smolan is a former Time Life and National Geographic photographer) Rick explores how the real-time visualization of data streaming in from satellites, billions of sensors, GPS-enabled cameras and smartphones is beginning to enable us, as individuals and collectively as a society, to sense, measure and understand aspects of our existence in ways never possible before.
The premise of his presentation is that all of these devices are creating a planetary nervous system and that the massive real time gathering and analyzing of data is suddenly allowing us to address to some of humanity’s biggest challenges, including pollution, world hunger, and illness.
But as Edward Snowden and the release of the NSA documents has shown, the collection and ability to access all this data comes with a tradeoff. Each of us is now generating an indelible digital trail that will remain forever in our wake. At the moment, it's primarily governments and corporations who are focusing on Big Data while most 'mere mortals' are not involved in the conversation. As a result decisions, algorithms and laws are being put in place that are going to affect every person on earth in the near future while most of us are not paying attention.
Smolan shares insights resulting from nearly two years of research and filming and via interviews conducted with dozens of the scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs pioneering this space. His talk clearly illustrates both the promise and peril in the growing big data and connected device revolution, a sea change which many experts believe will have a thousand times greater impact on our lives than the Internet.
Smolan's Human Face of Big Data project includes a best-selling coffee table book which was delivered to 10,000 world leaders and key influencers on a single day, an iPad app which won the WEBBY for best educational tablet app, plus a one-hour TV special being broadcast in 25 countries this year which won the award for best cinematography at the prestigious Boston Film Festival. Read Less ^
"It couldn’t have gone any better! Rick was a big hit. The attendees loved him and his content. It was a delight to have him."
"Rick was outstanding—he was very well received and knocked it out of the park."
"Rick was amazing – and what a humble guy! Those of us who got to interact with him felt very privileged. His keynote was awesome; he delivered on everything promised and was easy to work with as they come. A complete home-run!"