SBS documentary “The Age of Big Data”

November 8, 2014

(This article was first published on, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

by Yanchang Zhao,

“Data is becoming a powerful and most valuable commodity in 21st century. It is leading to scientific insights and new ways of understanding human behaviour. Data can also make you rich. Very rich.”
— SBS documentary “The Age of Big Data”

Last Friday, there was an interesting documentary on SBS, “The Age of Big Data”. It presented applications of data mining and big data in crime detection, medicine, financial market, advertising and astronomy.

It started with Los Angeles police driving a car with a laptop in front of them, which guided them with possible crime hotspots in next 24 hours produced by data mining models. University researchers have used similar models to predict earthquake after-shocks, and they are using such models to predict human behaviours and crime hotspots.

It then showed applications of DNA and genome analysis in medicine for diagnosis, predicting price variations for trading in financial market, decision theory used by NASA for selecting the best one out of 35 billion possible Man-to-Mars missions. It also showed how data mining was used for advertising by predicting what people might want to buy, which might get clues about that even before people realize by themselves! It ends with application in astronomy where a telescopy array is collecting 30 Terabytes of data per second, to unlock the secret of university.

Although it has talked nothing about big data techniques like Hadoop, it is an easy-to-understand introduction of data mining and big data for people who know nothing or little about it, like your boss, family and friends. It provides an opportunity to educate them and let them know what you are doing.

The video is available on SBSonDemand at

Again, I love the statement given at the very beginning of this post, and I am waiting to get rich one day. 🙂

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