DJ Patil: the internet of things will be our superpowers

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth


Dr. DJ Patil, Data Scientist in Residence, Greylock Partners

Our world is becoming an instrumented lifecycle. We are becoming the internet of things by surrounding ourselves with sensors, and using that data to get better insights about ourselves. We talk about small things: sleep monitors, blood pressure sensors – but big things like a Google car or a rover on Mars are all feeding us data. How about jet planes? There are 43,000 engines running right now – with 30,000 more to come in the next few years. These complex pieces of kit have 4000 parts – and its sending data. It tells the pilot and the mechanic if it’s starting to get sick. There are so many connected things that it could effect $32.2 trillion of spending. The 2003 blackout in the US was hard to track down because they’d couldn’t identify what was going wrong. Sensors + data = insights. Were’e OK at sensors, grey at data, but not great at turning that data into actionable insights. We’re just vomiting out data.

  1. We need to design our systems better: What do you want to take away, what do you want to do with it, and how do you feel about it? Our design needs to lead us to the next step.
  2. **We need to make superpowers **– tools that we build that make us feel powerless when they are taken away are superpowers. You wear Google Glass? You feel like Tony Stark… Think about augmentation, not replacement. When Spock lands on a planet, he pulls out a tricorder. It doesn’t tell him what to think, it just gives him data which he interprets. How is your connected tech augmenting you?
  3. **It’s a new set of skills. **A data scientist 2.0 – people who understand the hardware, the maths, the physics and the chemistry. Most of all, they understand how to put the human back in the data loop.

Don’t just think of the internet of things, but the hardware of things, the data of things… Everything we need for superpowers.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.