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Revealing the Data Possibilities with "Touch"

“We are all interconnected. Our lives are invisibly tied to those whose destinies’ touch ours.” This is the premise of Fox’s new TV show “Touch”. It follows a young boy named Jake who sees the invisible yarn, the hidden patterns, that tie all lives together. Through his father Martin, played by Kiefer Sutherland, Jake influences the paths of these interconnected lives and brings about harmony. The invisible patterns explored in theis story are remarkably similar to those exposed by Big Data and Analytics.

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The premise of this show demonstrates the true possibilities and power of data. It first shows the world for what it is: a collection of connected trends and patterns. Most of us are familiar with the butterfly effect which explains the interconnectedness of all effects on the physical world. The effect derives it name from the famous example of how a hurricane can theoretically be caused by the distant flap of butterfly wings. The stories in “Touch” show that connectedness in people’s lives--it shows how looking at your phone at just the right time can reunite you with your estranged father, or how losing your internet connection momentarily could save a soldier's life. “Touch” shows how tiny peripheral changes can transform key events.

Data and numbers are key characters in “Touch”, and through their prominence in the stories we start to see their influence in our lives. Everything you touch, everything you are can be understood as a collection of numbers and data. The food you eat can be understood by the physics and chemistry that turn it into nourishment, and your emotions are the result of stimuli and chemicals. Everything is data, and everything has trends. In the show Jake sees this data along with its patterns and trajectories. He is the world's greatest data discovery program cramed in the body of a small boy.

The show is interesting to data scientists for the simple fact that we believe the level of understanding Jake has is theoretically possible. The world is an inconceivably large collection of numbers and data. If we could gather all of that data, we could know the course of this world in the same way Jake does.

We are quickly expanding our capabilities to both gather and analyze data. With Big Data and Analytics we now know far more than we ever have. In the business world we can see cause and effect; we can see how small changes now will affect our future and even discover what we need to change to have the future we want. As we trend toward greater understanding, the areas analytics touches continues to expand. Self Analytics and People Analytics are new fields just starting to explore humanity’s data. The analytical abilities of Jake are so far outside of our current technology that to equate the two is difficult, but the data industry is moving towards that reality faster than you might expect.  

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Math is everywhere in "touch" and 

Everywhere in our lives.

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