Unknown Unknowns

An Introduction To The Data Driven Economy

Abhishek Kothari
8 min readJun 15, 2018


Matthew Henry on Unsplash.com

Sir, an equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses a thought of God — Srinivasa Ramanujan

At one point in human history, MS Excel followed by MS Access and later Relational Database Management Systems (RDMS) like Oracle were enough to crunch data. That’s because we were not searching for unknown unknowns. We did not have sensors everywhere and a computer in our pockets. Today, machine learning algorithms need to be supported by quantum computing to handle the level of data being generated. Our current output of data is roughly 2.5 Quintillion bytes a day.

There isn’t a single industry in the economy that won’t be completely transformed by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Therefore, it follows that data will define the economy and the jobs of the future. This article provides an overview and a history of the data economy. It ends by forecasting what the future may look like. In any case, to be a data scientist, today, is to be at the right place at the right time.

A Brief History of Data Science

The earliest known history of data is as old as 18,000 BCE when tally sticks were used to record and analyze data in what is now Uganda. The Ishango bone, found in 1960, is evidence of that ancient history. The World Economic Forum provides a detailed history of data science on its website.

Like any other technology, data science had humble beginnings and came to be fully developed and known as such because of enabling technologies such as the storage mechanisms (data centers), cloud computing, the internet and machine learning algorithms. Most technologies are combinations are existing technologies.

In November 1997, CF Jeff Wu gave an inaugural lecture titled “Statistics=Data Science?” for his appointment to the H. C. Carver Professorship at the University of Michigan. This lecture marked the first modern day, non computer science usage of the words “Data Science”.

The Data Economy

A distinction needs to be drawn between data, information and intelligence. Data is raw data without any modification. Information is data arranged to…



Abhishek Kothari

Futurist@The Intersection of Finance, Tech & Humanity. Stories of a Global Language: “Money”. Contributor @ Startup Grind, HackerNoon, HBR