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Age of Big Data, The

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Grade Level: JrH-Adult
Producer: BBC
Closed Captioned: Yes
Running Time: 50 mins
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2013
Available in French: No

Every day we produce more data than the human race did from the dawn of civilization until the year 2000. In this program we find out how this information can be searched and exploited for our gain.
Twitter, search engines, scientific experiments, stock markets – these colossal databases can be mined for valuable, sometimes mind-blowing, insights using the most sophisticated algorithms ever created. This film finds out how scientists are using technology and innovation to search data.
The program starts with a visit to the Los Angeles police department that is stopping crime before it happens. Officers patrol with smart phones that predict crime hot spots. Eight years worth of crime data and algorithms usually used to predict earthquakes have been combined to create this system and it is getting results – crime is down by 13%.
We meet the entrepreneur and rocket scientists who have joined forces to design one of the most advanced algorithms in the world. They hope this will revolutionize how we shop, predicting what every single one of us wants to buy and steering us in the right direction for the best offers.
In South Africa, we visit the square kilometre array, a huge cluster of 3000 radio telescopes hopping to collect data that will answer some of the biggest questions in astronomy – where did we come from and is there life beyond Earth?
And in San Francisco, Horizon meets Dr Geoffrey Olgin, who has signed up to an internet company which predicts when one of his patients is about to be in trouble – could this transform the health care system?
Finally, the program gains unprecedented access to the secretive world of hedge funds, meeting a man who makes millions using algorithms created by a crack team of scientists.