The pace at which tech advancements are transforming our daily lives is increasing by the minute. Suddenly, we are asking Alexa to search for a recipe, dictating a message to Siri and letting a smartwatch guide us toward a healthier lifestyle.
It’s not just our daily lives that are undergoing a transformation, though. The tech advancements have swept like a wave across a multitude of industries, introducing new ways to create, store and compile data. Digital medical devices tracking patient vitals, supply chains and manufacturing automating and digitizing internal processes, or even financial institutions digitizing documentation and correspondence. All these changes have led to an increased accumulation of data enabled by technology.
You might think, more data is good. The more, the better. But there is such a thing as too much data, even though it might seem useful and applicable at a first glance.
This concept of infobesity — or, in other words, information overload — has naturally come forth with the increasing digitization of the world. While we as humans cannot physically process the amount of data out there in the world, we have turned to technology and our computers specifically to help us store, sort through and analyze vast amounts of information. But the truth is modern computers, no matter how powerful, also have a finite capacity of processing an excess of information. They slow down, take a long time to load and thus impact overall productivity as data multiplies.
We are at a point where innovation continues to generate more data, but we need it to also provide feasible means to properly analyze and maximize the value of the information out there. And here is where machine learning, artificial intelligence and quantum computing come in.
While AI has become one of the most popular buzzwords recently, there is a lot of value to an algorithm’s ability to study, learn and quickly provide efficient output. Machine learning is at its core built on neural networks that can be trained to improve in their performance and ability to achieve tasks. All you need to do is feed more information to the system that it could study and infer learnings from. After a short period of time, the algorithm becomes better at identifying patterns and even predicting the likelihood of events in the near future — and this makes it a perfect solution for the infobesity issue we face today.
There is no shortage of AI applications to optimize our lives and manage the surplus of data, both on a personal and corporate level. That same smartwatch that contains all the information about your day-to-day health activities can be transformed with AI to offer valuable insights about your health profile and even predict malaise. Or in a corporate setting, an AI algorithm can swiftly organize documents by analyzing content and help you find the exact information you need out of the plethora of documentation available on the servers. From a supply chain perspective, AI can study delivery and transportation routes and devise the most optimal, efficient and fast route possible. The application of AI has no bounds — and it’s the perfect weapon against infobesity.
And then there is quantum computing that renders the systems we work with today obsolete. Quantum computers may sound sci-fi and from the future, but it’s clear that we aren’t very far from them becoming a reality already, with Google claiming they have achieved quantum supremacy. Quantum computers are fundamentally different from our day-to-day computers in that they don’t operate based on a binary system of 0s and 1s, or bits. Instead, quantum computers operate on qubits — and the particles in the world of quantum computing are not limited to two states only. Instead, there exists a notion in the quantum world known as superposition that allows for a particle to take on one or more states at a time — and in short, this expands the capabilities of the computer’s processing power immensely.
What does this mean? It means that a problem that would take a regular computer hours, days or months to solve can be solved in a matter of seconds with the quantum computer. It also means that, with the ever-growing volume of data, quantum computers will be the force that will be able to analyze, process and put the information to use — and they will do it faster than a regular computer would ever be able to. For instance, if it takes a long time to create a new treatment or drug today — accounting for the necessary amount of research and data to back it — quantum computers will make it possible to cut the production time down from years to potentially weeks or even days.
Yes, a variety of quality data is vital to the continued digitization and development of our personal lives and businesses around the world. But until we unlock optimal solutions that can help moderate, manage and maximize the value of this information, it will just continue to be a symptom of infobesity. We already have the technology necessary to tame the growing volume of information. From the already popular AI and machine learning to the futuristic quantum computing, the building blocks to transforming infobesity into an opportunity are already there. We just need to move in the right direction with the specific application of such powerful technologies to continue tapping into the vast potential that the plethora of data out there holds.
Originally published in Forbes