I just finished binge listening to the last few chapters of Dan Brown’s latest novel Origin which has inspired me to put pen to paper on what’s potentially on the horizon as we evolve data science, real-time data analytics, ML and AI.

Added to this, I just upgraded my Wi-Fi to a mesh at home, and to my horror, I had over 30 connected devices. And if that weren’t scary enough, I just watched a rather controversial video of a female robot that was being interviewed live and received unexpected citizenship in Saudi Arabia that has caused societal ripples. The fact that my refrigerator will likely breach my home internet and given the explosion of IoT across our lives, I find myself contemplating if we should go completely off the grid. I’ve come to realize that the only way we’ll feel safe is if the manufacturers and service providers can make order from the tech chaos barreling towards us all.

Not trying to be a fear-monger, but I have a unique vantage point being on the inside of how companies are constructing modernized applications and seeing firsthand the critical role that data scientists can play. Not to mention how critical fast insight and fast actions are becoming to remain competitive; it’s not a far leap to worry what would happen if the bad guys start to apply the same business logic and ask the questions we hope they never do!

In short order, the bad guys can easily gather data and start asking smart questions of complex ML features like predicting where they could inflict the maximum casualty rate with highest press coverage in the domestic US.

I guess it’s not “if” but “when” an event of this nature will occur that will rattle us all around weaponizing data science. I had a much more explicit, detailed, and controversial blog lined up which ended up on the cutting room floor but on sharing with a good friend and a rather spiritual and grounded individual, he sent the following text:

“…. I think the better question is can the good that comes overcome the bad? I’d like to believe that is true. I also think collectively the world is losing its moral compass. Many other questions arise which from an overarching perspective seem to me to fall under a single theme. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Let the debates begin.”

So, what can be done? Well, a lot actually. We need to enable the good guys to be smarter and faster than the bad guys. We need both stronger governance models for new technology and to ensure their capabilities are steered towards prosperity and good.

As we head towards 2018, I believe the overarching message here is: we now all live in a constantly connected world. Our fortunes are measured and kept in bits and bytes on computers, and our lives are controlled by microchips. There’s a very fine line between order and anarchy. With the explosion of connected devices and our reliance on their integrity, I put it to you that next year will be viewed in retrospect as the pivotal year. In 2018, the meta data and its real-time analysis for fast data insights will either secure the success of our very existence OR mark the turning point that will be written into the archives as our version of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event!