Tony Fabbro is a Chicago-based writer whose passion for his hometown and fascination with the serendipity of daily life are fodder for his blog. Recently, a series of chance encounters has led him to discover how the innovative spirit of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci is alive and well today in a creative community of technologists, thinkers, and business leaders.
The following installments from Tony’s blog show how his own understanding of complex technologies and concepts has evolved to the point that he helps simplify them for a wider audience – all while keeping his trademark sense of humor intact and showcasing the wit and wisdom that has garnered him a loyal online following.
After attending a lecture on Leonardo da Vinci, Tony discovers that a phrase attributed to the Renaissance master may have an alternate (and less renowned) source. He also learns that simplicity and sophistication have a complicated relationship – and that the reliability of data may be just as important as the volume of data.
Tony connects with an executive at a major credit bureau and gets a firsthand look at what happens when the flow of information that businesses depend on grows exponentially. He also receives his first introduction to the concept of Big Data and the role of data scientists in translating raw information into meaningful knowledge with practical application.
During a trip to the beach with friends, Tony meets two local techies who – despite their questionable taste in swimwear and preference for loud music – help him see the potential of the Internet of Things and the way that interconnected, data-generating devices can transform how businesses operate and help the entire world run better.
A visit to a suburban soccer field is the setting for Tony’s first foray into the realm of data science. A multi-tasking soccer mom who also happens to be a data scientist uses the match on the pitch as a primer on how experts like her start making sense of an overwhelmingly large data set.
Tony finds that even a conversation with a survey taker at the train station can offer insight into areas such as AI and the associated concepts of supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning. He also learns that gut feel and tribal knowledge aren’t always the most reliable guides for making good decisions.
Is a famous piece of public art actually a portal to another dimension? Tony’s encounter with a local man with a questionable grip on reality — but some interesting insights into Cloud computing — leads to a discussion of blockchain and an exploration of unconventional uses for duct tape.
When Tony meets a barista who knows a surprising amount about blockchain, it inspires him to ask his friend Joe, a trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, to enlighten him on how the technology works – and how it could transform areas such as medical records, educational transcripts, and land deeds in addition to serving as the foundation for cryptocurrencies (and possibly time travel).