10 Great TED Talks on Data Science and Big Data

TED Talks, the wildly popular series subtitled “Ideas Worth Spreading,” has long been on the forefront of big ideas, and has featured a number of fascinating Talks about Data Science and Big Data. Below are 10 great TED Talks that every data scientist, whether amateur or pro, is sure to find thought-provoking and inspiring.

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A Smarter, More Precise Way to Think About Public Health

Sue Desmond-Hellmann

Big data, combined with other innovative tools such as gene sequencing and consumer monitoring, can have a huge effect on the world’s most difficult medical problems. In her popular TED Talk from 2016, Sue Desmond-Hellmann discusses the ways in which Big Data is being used to bring the right types of medical help to the right populations at the right time.

Big Data is Better Data

Kenneth Cukier

Self-driving cars are just the beginning, asserts Kenneth Cukier, the Data Editor at The Economist. His TED talk, which has been viewed nearly 1.3 million times since his presentation in June 2014, outlines the exciting ways in which big data is driving the future of technology and design.

How Data Will Transform Business

Philip Evans

There are two long-standing theories about business strategy, and in this November 2013 TED Talk, consultant Philip Evans debunks them both. Instead, says Evans, the future of business is rooted in Big Data.

How We Found the Worst Place to Park in New York City — Using Big Data

Ben Wellington

In this entertaining TED Talk from October 2014, Data scientist Ben Wellington makes the [perhaps not-so-surprising] claim that city agencies have no idea what to do with the huge amounts of data and statistics available to them. Throughout his Talk, Wellington describes the ways in which these agencies could approach their data intelligently, while also releasing certain sets of information to the public in order to make urban life better for all.

The Human Insights Missing From Big Data

Tricia Wang

In this September 2016 TED talk, technology ethnographer Tricia Wang makes a solid argument for what she calls “thick data” — actual unquantifiable insights from real people — in the business world. She supports her argument using stories ranging from ancient Greece, to Netflix, to Nokia, and asks why it is that big, successful companies with easy access to large amounts of data so often make bad business decisions.

The Rise of Human-Computer Cooperation

Shyam Sankar

According to Shyam Sankar, a data intelligence agent and advocate of human-computer symbiosis, the world’s largest problems cannot be solved by neither computing force or manpower alone. Rather, to do things like catch terrorists or identify hidden trends, we must find the right relationship between human creativity and computation.

What Do We Do With All This Big Data?

Susan Etlinger

In this popular TED Talk, which has been viewed 1.2 million times, data analyst Susan Etlinger discusses the ways in which critical thinking skills are absolutely necessary when it comes to big data. As part of her argument, Etlinger maintains that it is not enough to depend solely on large quantities of data, and that there is a crucial difference between counting something and understanding it.

What Will a Future Without Secrets Look Like?

Alessandro Acquisti

In this thought-provoking TED Talk, privacy economist Alessandro Acquisti discusses the ways in which our public and private lives have been merged over the past decade thanks to things like the internet. The Talk, which has been viewed online nearly 1.3 million times, outlines ongoing research related to the future of privacy. In one especially chilling story, Acquisti discusses a project in which it was found just how easy it is to match a stranger’s photograph with his or her personal information.

What’s the Next Window into Our Universe?

Andrew Connolly

Combining astronomy with the topic of Big Data, astronomer Andrew Connolly asks the question, “What’s the next window into our universe?” In this extremely popular TED Talk, Connolly discusses how the massive amounts of data being collected about the skies and space is helping us to understand more and more about our universe.

Why Smart Statistics are the Key to Fighting Crime

Anne Milgram

Anne Milgram, a former attorney general of New Jersey, has long been committed to fighting crime with data and analytics. In her October 2013 TED talk entitled “Why Smart Statistics are the Key to Fighting Crime,” Milgram details her team’s journey from the point at which they didn’t know who it was they were putting in jail, to realizing just how data analytics and statistics could make the public safer.

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