Red_Carpet_2.18People so often think of Big Data in terms of ones and zeroes—the bits and bytes that drive our digital world—but in reality Big Data has a human face in the way it shapes how we work, play, and live. On February 9th of this year, 475 guests experienced The Human Face of Big Data at the documentary’s red carpet premiere at the historic Montgomery theatre in San Jose.

The evening began with virtuoso cellist, Philip Sheppard, playing three scores of music, including one piece he created on the fly using ‘Big Data’ numbers as the basis. Having composed an original piece for The Human Face of Big Data documentary, Philip’s short performance beautifully set the stage for the film screening.


After nearly two years of research and filming interviews conducted with dozens of the scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs pioneering this space, The Human Face of Big Data illustrates both the promise and peril in the growing Big Data revolution, a sea change which many experts believe will have a thousand times greater impact on our lives than the Internet.


The film features conversations with more than 30 leading voices in the field of data science, artificial intelligence, technology, and digital medicine including Jack Dorsey (the founder of Twitter and Square), Linda Avey (co-founder of 23&Me), Joi Ito (Director of the MIT Media Lab), Jay Walker (Director TEDMED), Tim O’Reilly (author and futurist).


Following the 55-minute documentary film, attendees were able to engage in a panel discussion with Big Data luminaries with:

  • Vint Cerf – A ‘father of the Internet,’ his contributions have earned him the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Marconi Prize
  • Linda Avey – Co-founded the world’s first personal genetics service 23andMe, as well as Curious, which answers questions about people’s well-being through personal data aggregation
  • Quentin Clark – As Chief Business Officer and member of the Global Managing Board of SAP SE, Quentin is responsible for defining the direction for SAP and advancing its business strategy
  • Sandy Smolan – The film’s director; Sandy is an award-winning Hollywood director for over 50 prime time network series, pilots and TV movies for ABC, CBS, NBC, and HBO
  • Rick Smolan – The film’s executive producer; Rick is a former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer best known as the creator of the “Day in The Life” Series and “America 24/7” series
  • Michael Malone (moderator) – Michael is a leading technology writer, with two Pulitzer Prize nominations and nearly 20 award-winning book publications

The evening explored some of the crucial issues surrounding Big Data and the digital transformation it is driving in our world. Writer Robert McKee once said, “A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling. When society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out, pseudo-stories, it degenerates. We need true satires and tragedies, dramas and comedies that shine a clean light into the dingy corners of the human psyche and society.”

Attendees of the red carpet premiere experienced honest, powerful storytelling that night.  Red carpet interviews with attendees can be viewed here.

You too can watch The Human Face Of Big Data documentary this Wednesday, February 24 at 10:00 pm EST (9:00 Central) when the documentary airs nationally in the United States on PBS. Don’t forget to join the conversation on twitter #BigDataPBS.