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IBM has al­ready said that data is the new nat­u­ral re­source of to­day's world. How im­por­tant is data nowa­days?

Ev­ery­thing we do to­day cre­ates data. Data means in­sight, it means bet­ter in­for­ma­tion and more knowl­edge. Data is ex­po­nen­tially in­creas­ing in vol­ume, ve­loc­ity and va­ri­ety, and the op­por­tu­ni­ties to use data to im­prove all as­pects of our lives are too grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially. Data is the new nat­u­ral re­source. It prom­ises to be for the 21st cen­tury what steam power was for the 18th, elec­tric­ity for the 19th and hy­dro­car­bons for the 20th. We are truly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a new in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion.

Tech­nol­ogy ex­perts are talk­ing about Big Data a lot. Why?

The emer­gence of so­cial net­work­ing, sen­sors, mo­bile de­vices, busi­ness data ware­houses, sci­en­tific and gov­ern­ment records cre­ates an abun­dance of in­for­ma­tion. We like to call it Big Data. It comes in all forms: sound, video, images, sym­bols, mea­sure­ments and nat­u­ral lan­guage. It is chang­ing the way we live and work, the way busi­nesses op­er­ate and the way gov­ern­ments are run. And it is fun­da­men­tally chang­ing the In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy land­scape, giv­ing rise to a new gen­er­a­tion of cog­ni­tive sys­tems that sense, pre­dict, in­fer, rec­om­mend, hy­poth­e­size, and in some ways, rea­son.

And this Big Data is set to change our lives?

Con­sider this - ev­ery day we gen­er­ate bil­lions of gi­ga­bytes of data. And at the same time 80% of the world's data is un­struc­tured. Au­dio, video, blogs, tweets, sen­sors… All rep­re­sent new ar­eas to mine for in­sights. Data and cog­ni­tive ca­pa­bil­ity are the new ba­sis of com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. This is where “speed of in­sight” and “speed of ac­tion” truly be­come core dif­fer­en­tia­tors and change the game in just about ev­ery in­dus­try and/or pro­fes­sion.

IBM Wat­son is one ex­am­ple of a new form of com­put­ing: an ad­vanced cog­ni­tive sys­tem built to an­a­lyze and ex­tract knowl­edge from vast amounts of largely un­struc­tured data with un­par­al­leled speed and results.

So are we deal­ing with think­ing com­put­ers and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence?

The teams con­sist­ing of peo­ple and new gen­er­a­tion of com­put­ers will be able to think in a way that nei­ther peo­ple, nor com­put­ers have ever done be­fore. This will am­plify hu­man abil­i­ties and lead to new break­throughs, as­sist us in mak­ing bet­ter choices and help us

Big Data chang­ing the way we live, work, do busi­nesses, run gov­ern­ment.

nav­i­gate our world in pow­er­ful new ways.

How will all this data and its anal­y­sis help the av­er­age cit­i­zen and im­prove his qual­ity of life?

The op­por­tu­ni­ties to touch in­di­vid­ual lives, whether it is in South­east Europe or re­mote parts of Africa are nu­mer­ous. From bet­ter di­ag­noses and man­age­ment of ill­nesses, more ef­fec­tive water and en­ergy man­age­ment, weather pre­dic­tion, im­prov­ing traffic flows, im­proved se­cu­rity and food safety.

In or­der to help so­ci­eties you prob­a­bly ad­dress lo­cal gov­ern­ments first. Any tak­ers in the SEE re­gion?

Gov­ern­ing bod­ies and pub­lic author­i­ties can use Big Data to make their ju­ris­dic­tions more ef­fi­cient, more sus­tain­able and more pleas­ant to live in. The Croa­t­ian gov­ern­ment is al­ready us­ing an IBM IT in­fra­struc­ture to pro­vide e-gov­ern­ment ser­vices to Croats in min­utes and hours, rather than the days it tra­di­tion­ally re­quired. The lat­est gov­ern­ment project, e-ci­ti­zens, saw the Croa­t­ian na­tional pop­u­la­tion reg­istry be­ing in­te­grated into the sys­tem along with the in­for­ma­tion sys­tems of the min­istry of fi­nance, min­istry of pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion, to name just a few. Many gov­ern­ment pro­cesses will be op­ti­mized, such as taxes, birth, death and so­cial se­cu­rity regis­tra­tion. This re­leases enor­mous amounts of gov­ern­ment funds, which can in turn be di­rected to­wards other ini­tia­tives.

These Big Data pre­dic­tions of­fer great in­sights into our lives and busi­ness then. How about na­ture – can they read its “plans”?

Sure they can. I was sad to see how the Adri­atic re­gion was af­fected by the re­cent floods. I re­mem­bered im­me­di­ately that just last year IBM launched Dig­i­tal Delta, an in­no­va­tion pro­gram that har­nesses in­sights from Big Data to trans­form flood con­trol and the man­age­ment of the en­tire Dutch water sys­tem. True, more than half of the Dutch pop­u­la­tion is lo­cated in ar­eas prone to large-scale flood­ing, but such so­lu­tions could help just about any coun­try with mon­i­tor­ing and man­ag­ing its water sys­tems.

Where do you want to make the most dif­fer­ence?

There are no lim­its. Our team of sci­en­tists is fo­cused strongly on im­prov­ing the fields of health­care, en­ergy, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, ed­u­ca­tion, in­sur­ance. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.

Data and cog­ni­tive ca­pa­bil­ity are the new ba­sis of com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

Alek­san­dra Mo­jsilovic, IBM fel­low

The re­gion of South­east Europe with its rich his­tory, cul­ture and a lot of ex­cite­ment, also gives the world some bril­liant minds. Alek­san­dra (Saška) Mo­jsilović is a Ser­bian born sci­en­tist who man­ages the Data Sci­ence group in IBM T. J. Wat­son Re­search...

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