Sean Gourley. Constructing the future with Big Data
On July 24, the Digital October center as part of the Knowledge Stream project held a lecture by Sean Gourley — one of the founders and technological director of the San Francisco company Quid. This startup has interested a series of big investors: the first investor in Facebook and one of the founders of PayPal, Peter Thiel, as well as the founder of Skype, Niklas Zennström, have put resources into Quid.
In his lecture, Sean Gourley talked about the creation of technology made by Quid thanks to which large volumes of data can be processed. The quantity of data that rains down upon a contemporary person greatly exceeds his ability to apprehend it. To understand what is going on in the surrounding world today, he needs new and powerful tools. One such tool is offered by Quid, the engineers of which have created a unique interactive map of the global sector of new technologies.
These technologies are based on continual replenishing via computer software of a database of companies that are engaged in promising development. All the information located on the Internet — from patents, press releases, and scientific publications to announcements of new job vacancies — pass through the program. The program then analyzes the collected data, exposing business links between companies and their similarities and differences. The final stage of Quid’s information processing is its visualization, that is, a translation into a format that can be apprehended by human beings. This technology allows analysts to reveal tendencies in development and assess the level of competition and strategic possibilities of the market on the basis of reliable data.
Quid offers services in processing and visualization of “Big Data” to American corporations, such as Microsoft and IBM, as well as very large global finance companies — in particular, Russia’s Sberbank.
Sean Gourley is a native of New Zealand and an alumnus of Oxford. After defending his doctoral dissertation in physics, in which he investigated the mathematical patterns that are followed by war and civil unrest, he worked for the Pentagon, United Nations, and NASA. In 2009, he and his college friend Bob Goodson created the company Quid.
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