Rail, Aquariums, and Data

Author: Josh Patterson

Date: May 25th, 2018

As we approach the June 11th date for the 2018 Chattanooga Deep Learning Conference, I wanted to write an article explaining the approach for our investment in this conference.

At Patterson Consulting we believe graduate-level research output to be a key driver in the economies of cities around the globe. As an alumnus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a life-long Chattanooga-area resident, I can see a need for bolstering suppoort of the local computer science graduate program as a long-term investment in regional economic development. This investment thesis for a region comes down to:

"you don't have to found Google in your city to get key companies to locate there, but you DO have to invest in your local graduate programs in a significant way."

To support this central thesis in this article we put forth the following argument:

  1. Software is eating the world, and effects like the hub economy are an increasing threat to cities like Chattanooga.
  2. Software sector continues to grow, while manufacturing (long the core industry in cities like Chattanooga) continues to decline
  3. Historically Chattanooga was able to stay relevant in key industries such as manufacturing by staying relevant through river, rail, and interstate investments
  4. To evolve the economy again, to stay relevant, Chattanooga must find more ways to connect to high-growth industries such as the software industry
  5. High growth economy cities tend to correlate with vibrant tech sectors coupled with top-tier research output

Software is integrating, displacing, and fundamentally changing nearly every industry in the global economy, as illustrated in the quote by Marc Andreessen:

“More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services — from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.”

"Why Software is Eating the World", Marc Andreessen

This "hub-economy" effect has accelerated to the point that some countries see not other countries as economic threats, but specific companies as threats:

“Data centric tech companies are participating in the new economy at a greater proportion than other companies The British East India Company was the first example of a successful global monopoly that massively extracted and redistributed wealth. The danger today is that we stand at the cusp of a new era of exploitation, this time not by other countries but companies; we should all be grateful to Facebook for alerting us to this threat. We must be careful before mindlessly celebrating disruptive innovation.”

"Without strong data law, India will end up as a digital colony of US, Chinese firms", Ravi Venkatesan, former chairman of Microsoft India

While software is in high growth mode, manufacturing job numbers fall while the manufacturing sector total output rises. Software has had an impact in driving this output growth, obviously, which makes it a compelling candidate to focus on as manufacturing slows as a viable growth industry. Why should we focus on software as opposed to other industries? Specifically software applications such as: We point out these technologies and their related field specifically because data analysis, storage, and processing underpins large swathes of the 4th Industrial revolution:

“In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology. These technologies have great potential to continue to connect billions of more people to the web, drastically improve the efficiency of business and organizations and help regenerate the natural environment through better asset management.[11]”

"The Fourth Industrial Revolution", Klaus Schwab

While software is growing quickly as in industry, it has created a new layer of networked connections that are constantly generating data. This data needs compelling new techniques to create value, squeezing efficiency out of older systems to keep industries improving, keeping them competitve in a global economy.

So in this article series we'll connect the dots from

We'll close with what Patterson Consulting is doing locally to help support the research efforts of the Smart Communications and Analysis Lab (SCAL) run by Dr. Mina Sartipi. Let's start off by making the case for why we should make further direct investments in our local graduate programs.

Next: Economic Impact of Graduate Program Investment