The 4 things (at least) you’ll learn about at Structure Data

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Credit: Jakub Mosur

Gigaom’s Structure Data conference is less than a month away, kicking off March 18 in New York. There are a lot of reasons to attend — great location, great networking, free drinks — but, of course, the biggest reason is great content.

With that in mind, here are four big themes of the event and the speakers who’ll be talking about them. Some are household names in the world of big data and information technology, some are researchers on the forefront of hot new fields, and other up-and-coming entrepreneurs with big ideas about how data can change business and the world. Structure Data is your chance to hear in person what they have to say and ask them those questions you’ve been dying to ask.

The business of big data

Everyone has heard about Hadoop, but the business of big data infrastructure is about so much more: Spark, Kafka, the internet of things, the industrial internet, visualization, social media analysis, webscale systems, machine learning. The tools are finally in place to do some really cool things, if you know where to look for them.

Structure Data speakers leading the charge in the world data software and services include: Ted Bailey, Dataminr; Rob Bearden, Hortonworks; Eric Brewer, Google; Ann Johnson, Interana; Jock Mackinlay, Tableau Software; Hilary Mason, Fast Forward Labs; Seth McGuire, Twitter; Neha Narkhede, Confluent; Matt Ocko, Data Collective; Andy Palmer, Tamr; Tom Reilly, Cloudera; William Ruh, GE; John Schroeder, MapR; Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft; Ion Stoica, Databricks; Matt Wood, Amazon Web Services.

Eric Brewer, vice president of infrastructure, Google

Eric Brewer, vice president of infrastructure, Google

A new era of artificial intelligence

Unless you live under a rock inside a cave with spotty internet, you’ve probably heard that folks including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk think we should be leery of artificial intelligence. Perhaps they’re right, perhaps they’re wrong. But AI is hot right now because techniques such as deep learning offer effective ways of training systems that can make sense of mountains of text, audio and visual data, and because we’re closer than ever to robots that can navigate the world around them.

Structure Data speakers on the forefront of AI and machine learning research include: Ron Brachman, Yahoo; Eugenio Culurciello, TeraDeep; Rob Fergus, Facebook; Ahna Girshick, Enlitic; Jeff Hawkins, Numenta; Anthony Lewis, Qualcomm; Gary Marcus, Geometric Intelligence; Naveen Rao, Nervana Systems; Ashutosh Saxena, Stanford University; Julie Shah, MIT; Sven Strohband, MetaMind; Davide Venturelli, NASA; Brian Whitman, Spotify.

Julie Shah, Interactive Robotics Group, MIT

Julie Shah, Interactive Robotics Group, MIT

Users — big users — everywhere

One of the most amazing things to watch over the past few years is how big data tools and data science techniques dispersed from the ivory towers of places like Google and Facebook out across every type of industry. From farming to medicine, and from media to food production, data is driving some incredible investments and innovations.

Structure Data speakers discussing how data has transformed their businesses include: Krish Dasgupta, ESPN; Don Duet, Goldman Sachs; Ky Harlin, BuzzFeed; Nancy Hersh, Opower; Steven Horng, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Ravi Hubbly, Lockheed Martin; Lee Redden, Blue River Technology; Bill Squadron, STATS; Dan Zigmond, Hampton Creek.

Ky Harlin, director of data science, BuzzFeed

Ky Harlin, director of data science, BuzzFeed

Data by the people, for the people and about the people

While big data has been a boon for IT vendors and some large corporations, the benefits haven’t always been so obvious when it comes to society. Better marketing and more-addictive apps only help the businesses behind them, while the privacy risks for consumers have never been higher as companies collect more and more data from the sites we visit and devices we use. Things are starting to come around, however, as smart people are using data tackle everything from crime to geopolitics, and officials are increasingly cognizant of regulating new industries like the internet of things in ways that maximize the consumer experience while still keeping them safe.

Structure Data speakers addressing societal impacts of data analysis include: Julie Brill, Federal Trade Commission; Paul Duan, Bayes Impact; Kalev Leetaru, GDELT; Jens Ludwig, University of Chicago Crime Lab.

Julie Brill, commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

Julie Brill, commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

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pfretty-1

“the benefits haven’t always been so obvious when it comes to society” So true and probably one of the reasons why it has been difficult for some organizations to gain traction in their big data efforts. There is a dire need to build understanding and buy-in
Peter Fretty, IDG blogger working on behalf of SAS

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