By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
Use of artificial intelligence (AI) could identify important events, days in the future. By analyzing large amounts of information, AI might be able to anticipate other nations’ military moves. Big data is studied for many reasons.
The U.S. military is running a battery of tests called the Global Information Dominance Experiments (GIDE) with a network of artificial intelligences that will provide days of advanced warning to operatives about changing activities in other nations. For example, an increased number of cars in a parking lot at an overseas military base may mean an upcoming offensive by a country. Artificial intelligence can read this increased traffic and notify U.S. military leaders, drastically increasing their advanced knowledge as compared to the time it would take for human data analysts to produce it.
This is possible by examining “big data.” In his video series Big Data: How Data Analytics Is Transforming the World, Dr. Tim Chartier, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Davidson College, explained what big data is and why it’s studied.
Defining Big Data
Data collection is reaching incredible levels in the digital age. Every time a Netflix customer rates something they’ve seen, by clicking Netflix’s “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” buttons, it refines how Netflix suggests titles for that customer. It does this for millions of people. Amazon, TikTok, Facebook, and other companies have similar algorithms they use.
“We are collecting data as never before, and that creates new kinds of opportunities and challenges,” Dr. Chartier said. “In fact, so many applications are creating data sets that are so big that the ways we traditionally have analyzed data don’t work. Indeed, the ideas we have today might not solve the questions we have for the data tomorrow.
“This is the idea behind the term big data, where the sheer size of large data sets can force us to come up with new methods we didn’t need for smaller data sets.”
According to Dr. Chartier, a 2012 study estimated that the total volume of digital data stored worldwide was over one trillion gigabytes in 2010. A trillion gigabytes is equivalent to a billion terabytes. The number was expected to double every year, reaching 40 trillion gigabytes by 2020.
Why Bother with Big Data?
“Within the data can lay insight—we aren’t just interested in the data; we are looking at data analysis and we want to learn something valuable we didn’t already know,” Dr. Chartier said. “Even at a small scale, such problems can be too hard to allow for optimal solutions.”
For example, he said, imagine that a UPS driver makes 20 stops throughout their day. They must decide which route is the most efficient for time, gas, and with consideration of local traffic. If you consider that there are 20 possibilities for the first stop, then another 19 for the next, then another 18 for the third, and so on, the number of drop-off routes is about two times 10 to the 18th power. UPS uses more than 55,000 drivers per day.
“How much can this save?” Dr. Chartier asked. “Consider these two numbers. Thirty million dollars: That’s the cost to UPS per year if each driver drives just one more mile each day than necessary. Eighty-five million: The number of miles the analytics tools of UPS are saving per year.”
In both the public and private sectors, analyzing big data can save billions of dollars. The U.S. military is hoping it can help them anticipate and prepare for other nations’ military and government actions.