They have a ‘big data’ start to 2016 planned for the President’s (Andrew Petter at Simon Fraser University [SFU] in Vancouver, Canada) Dream Colloquium according to a Jan. 5, 2016 news release,
Big data explained: SFU launches spring 2016 President’s Dream Colloquium
Speaker series tackles history, use and implications of collecting data
Canadians experience and interact with big data on a daily basis. Some interactions are as simple as buying coffee or as complex as filling out the Canadian government’s mandatory long-form census. But while big data may be one of the most important technological and social shifts in the past five years, many experts are still grappling with what to do with the massive amounts of information being gathered every day.
To help understand the implications of collecting, analyzing and using big data, Simon Fraser University is launching the President’s Dream Colloquium on Engaging Big Data on Tuesday, January 5.
“Big data affects all sectors of society from governments to businesses to institutions to everyday people,” says Peter Chow-White, SFU Associate Professor of Communication. “This colloquium brings together people from industry and scholars in computing and social sciences in a dialogue around one of the most important innovations of our time next to the Internet.”
This spring marks the first President’s Dream Colloquium where all faculty and guest lectures will be available to the public. The speaker series will give a historical overview of big data, specific case studies in how big data is used today and discuss what the implications are for this information’s usage in business, health and government in the future.
The series includes notable guest speakers such as managing director of Microsoft Research, Surajit Chaudhuri, and Tableau co-founder Pat Hanrahan.
“Pat Hanrahan is a leader in a number of sectors and Tableau is a leader in accessing big data through visual analytics,” says Chow-White. “Rather than big data being available to only a small amount of professionals, Tableau makes it easier for everyday people to access and understand it in a visual way.”
The speaker series is free to attend with registration. Lectures will be webcast live and available on the President’s Dream Colloquium website.
- By 2020, over 1/3 of all data will live in or pass through the cloud.
- Data production will be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009.
- More than 70 percent of the digital universe is generated by individuals. But enterprises have responsibility for the storage, protection and management of 80 percent of that.
(Statistics provided by CSC)
WHO’S SPEAKING AT THE COLLOQUIUM:
The course features lectures from notable guest speakers including:
- Sasha Issenberg, Author and Journalist
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
- Surajit Chaudhuri, Scientist and Managing Director of XCG (Microsoft Research)
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
- Pat Hanrahan, Professor at the Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory, Cofounder and Chief Scientist of Tableau, Founding member of Pixar
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
- Sheelagh Carpendale, Professor of Computing Science University of Calgary, Canada Research Chair in Information Visualization
Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 3:30pm
- Colin Hill, CEO of GNS Healthcare
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
- Chad Skelton, Award-winning Data Journalist and Consultant
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Not to worry, even though the first talk with Sasha Issenberg and Mark Pickup (strangely, he’s [Pickup is an SFU professor of political science] not mentioned in the news release or on the event page) has taken place, a webcast is being posted to the event page here.
I watched the first event live (via a livestream webcast which I accessed by clicking on the link found on the Event’s Speaker’s page) and found it quite interesting although I’m not sure about asking Issenberg to speak extemporaneously. He rambled and offered more detail about things that don’t matter much to a Canadian audience. I couldn’t tell if part of the problem might lie with the fact that his ‘big data’ book (The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns) was published a while back and he’s since published one on medical tourism and is about to publish one on same sex marriages and the LGBTQ communities in the US. As someone else who moves from topic to topic, I know it’s an effort to ‘go back in time’ and to remember the details and to recapture the enthusiasm that made the piece interesting. Also, he has yet to get the latest scoop on big data and politics in the US as embarking on the 2016 campaign trail won’t take place until sometime later in January.
So, thanks to Issenberg for managing to dredge up as much as he did. Happily, he did recognize that there are differences between Canada and the US and the type of election data that is gathered and other data that can accessed. He provided a capsule version of the data situation in the US where they can identify individuals and predict how they might vote, while Pickup focused on the Canadian scene. As one expects from Canadian political parties and Canadian agencies in general, no one really wants to share how much information they can actually access (yes, that’s true of the Liberals and the NDP [New Democrats] too). By contrast, political parties and strategists in the US quite openly shared information with Issenberg about where and how they get data.
Pickup made some interesting points about data and how more data does not lead to better predictions. There was one study done on psychologists which Pickup replicated with undergraduate political science students. The psychologists and the political science students in the two separate studies were given data and asked to predict behaviour. They were then given more data about the same individuals and asked again to predict behaviour. In all. there were four sessions where the subjects were given successively more data and asked to predict behaviour based on that data. You may have already guessed but prediction accuracy decreased each time more information was added. Conversely, the people making the predictions became more confident as their predictive accuracy declined. A little disconcerting, non?
Pickup made another point noting that it may be easier to use big data to predict voting behaviour in a two-party system such as they have in the US but a multi-party system such as we have in Canada offers more challenges.
So, it was a good beginning and I look forward to more in the coming weeks (President’s Dream Colloquium on Engaging Big Data). Remember if you can’t listen to the live session, just click through to the event’s speaker’s page where they have hopefully posted the webcast.
The next dream colloquium takes place Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016,
Big Data since 1854
Dr. Surajit Chaudhuri, Scientist and Managing Director of XCG (Microsoft Research)
Standford University, PhD
Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 3:30–5 pm
IRMACS Theatre, ASB 10900, Burnaby campus [or by webcast[