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Prahlad G Menon, PhD -
Technology and the democratization of access to data have liberated today’s workers. As a result, people can make better informed decisions regarding their health and well-being, their purchase decisions, and even where or when they work. While technology and its omnipresence have their positive effects, the rate at which this continues to evolve threatens to remake almost every aspect that constitutes industry. Large corporations that thrive on predictability and stability are required to adapt and innovate fast enough in order to survive and remain relevant. Similarly, the onus of remaining current is one that affects every member of society. To truly thrive in a world where the only true constant is change is congruent with being able to constantly absorb new knowledge and apply it effectively to fuel the needs of industry and the evolving economy. The latter is critical to remaining relevant in today’s job market.
Three areas of technology have been at the focal point of much of this change: artificial intelligence (AI), imaging and blockchain. At the heart of each of these three technology areas is the notion of acquiring, managing and learning from lots and lots of data. Data forms the connecting fabric that amalgamates society and people. Creative use of this data offers us new and better informed ways to measure and control process, optimize production methodologies and improve management of human capital, as well as other capital assets. It also has given birth to automation in a manner that was never before fathomable and fuels a perpetual circle of innovation that transforms the way people and industry perceive, operate and interact with each other. Here are just a few examples:
- Personal data: Advertising and marketing campaigns leverage data to personalize outreach and drive consumer choices and behaviors.
- Health care data: Health care payers and providers actively leverage data to improve care management; stratify patient-specific risk of disease, behavioral health and more; and design custom medical devices which can optimize quality of life.
- Financial data: Wall Street firms and the FinTech industry at large are hinged on deriving actionable insights from big data through novel algorithmic approaches to inform market trading, asset/product pricing and even investment decisions.
Data has been the logical consequence of change and the culmination of several technological trends that corroborate and resonate with each other, including the pervasiveness of the internet, accessibility to mobile technologies, cheap data storage, compute access and digitalization of everyday products — from smart televisions to driverless cars. This has led to data of people, process and things being accumulated at an alarming rate — some of which contain very private and personally identifiable information, leading to concerns regarding data privacy, safety and efficacy of AI.
In the future, data may be used to drive public policy by fueling recommendations that are outcomes of sensing public opinion — therefore determining the needs of society rather than the ones identified through the interpretation of the same by human beings who may be inherently biased in terms of formulating opinions or advocating change. The possibilities for the future are endless, but so are the risks to society’s interpretations of privacy and safety.
Learn more about ways to grow professionally in your career. Visit Carlow University’s College of Professional Studies at www.carlow.edu/professionalstudies.
About the Author: Menon is an associate professor of
at Carlow University. He earned his master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
Contact: Prahlad G Menon, PhD