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The Data Society

Intel Labs

The Data Society: Unlocking the Hidden Power of Data for Everyone

Intel Labs is driving innovation to enable the emerging data society.

People everywhere constantly generate increasing amounts of data, and our ability to harness it for business, scientific, and personal benefit is only starting to emerge. The potential is extraordinary, which Intel Labs envisions within four spheres: informed experiences, the data-driven economy, vibrant data, and intelligent infrastructure.

The Data Society

These four concepts provide the framework that will unlock the hidden power of data. Anthropological and ethnographic research will identify the opportunities for informed experiences, where personal data can enact positive change. A data-driven economy will create an environment that recognizes and asserts the value of vibrant data, putting it to work on behalf of each of us. And pervasive, intelligent infrastructure will extend the reach of that data so it can enrich every aspect of our lives and our interactions with the world around us.

Informed Experiences

What if we could apply data intelligence to change our lives for the better?
Intel Labs is using anthropological and ethnographic research to reveal ways that sophisticated bodies of data can enrich everything people do, every day. For example, we are looking at how a movement called the “Quantified Self” is enabling people to use personal data to understand things like how certain foods and sleep schedules affect their well-being or athletic performance. We are also looking at how people could use air quality data from around their neighborhoods to map routes to work or school that minimize exposure to urban pollution. Our technology vision will be continually fine-tuned through experience-driven research to find the opportunities that are most valuable to people.

Just as it is vital to make data services as pervasive as possible, we must also extend them to everyone who wants them, as part of fulfilling the data society’s democratic vision. Making the usage models associated with the data society as simple and intuitive as possible lies at the heart of this effort.

Data-Driven Economy

What if the value of personal and public data were fully recognized and respected by society at large?
Pushing an understanding of data’s value out into society as a whole will create a “data economy” that builds value for individuals, businesses, and society. People will increasingly make new types of personal data available to each other or to businesses in exchange for insights about life-enriching products, services, and experiences, benefiting all parties. Because the value of that personal data will be generally recognized, it will be well protected, similar to financial data.

To understand the challenges that face the developing data economy, Intel Labs conducted a crowdsourcing project. The results, which can be seen at wethedata.org, outline grand challenges that we need to work together to address. Intel Labs also supports citizen science movements and “civic hacking” events where citizens put public data to work for uses as diverse as consolidating after-school activities for an individual child’s needs or assembling far-flung medical information for a critically ill relative. Ultimately, we will all benefit.

Vibrant Data

What if our data enabled all our activities, completely within our control?
Bringing our data to life so that it can inform our daily activities is central to putting our data to work for us. Rather than being out of reach in an isolated database, our data will be given agency to work for us. Data that describes us, as well as our needs and wants, will discover and interact with relevant data from the world around us to make life richer. This will make the data economy dynamic, complete with marketplaces in which vibrant data actively does work on behalf of all of us.

To better transact between our personal data and the rest of the world, we will improve control over how our data is revealed and distributed. Just as we password-protect our devices today in case they are stolen, vibrant data must include embedded protections and controls to ensure that it will not be misused when shared online. Intel Labs is working toward data-use controls that will provide the ability choose how services, businesses, and other individuals can work with our data.

Intelligent Infrastructure

What if we could draw insight and value from every data relationship and interaction?
Data’s true value lies in serendipitous patterns and intelligence in the pervasive sea of data all around us. The American Red Cross looks for patterns in social media that help them put disaster-relief resources where they are needed most, and the World Health Organization uses similar approaches to monitor the spread of epidemics. Personal analytics will enable each of us to detect patterns in our own data, to help us make better decisions about everything from our financial well being to our personal health.

Intel Labs is driving innovations to better handle data both big and small, from small-scale sensor networks that enable data gathering to large-scale cloud resources for deep analysis. To keep up with the explosion of data, we must reinvent our centralized, “Big Data” computing systems, databases, and analytical software, augmenting them with distributed, small-scale resources. New capabilities such as graph analytics will enable more sophisticated identification of patterns and relationships, while approximate analytics will allow us to quickly poll data which today is simply too large. In order to foster a new data economy around exchanges of personal data, we must extend our infrastructure and device platforms with the capability to transport, exchange, and transact our data wherever it is most effective. These must include trusted execution environments, with hardware-based mechanisms to help protect our data against being compromised.


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