I don't know how many of you have ever played around with Google's Colab, but it is a wonder to behold!:
If you've suffered through using Matlab and other systems to analyze data (as I have), you will know how great the improvement is!
You can write little Python programs in your web browser, and run them on Google servers, for free. This is especially useful if you want to do data analysis using a Chromebook, say. Using Numpy and Pandas and a few other libraries (e.g. Tensorflow), you can do just about anything -- e.g. import and analyze spreadsheet files, mpeg 3 and 4 files, and so on. So very convenient...
(Also, I recommend looking up various Jupyter Notebooks by researchers that you can run on Colab. There are a lot of them out there!)
I've been thinking about analyzing some of my EEG data this way, which can be exported to Colab as a CSV file (basically, a spreadsheet, with one column per EEG channel).
What this has got me wondering is just how much further it can be pushed, and what its impact will be. A few things to wish for:
* Removal of the last little bit of interface plumbing you have to bother with. No need to mount and unmount drives and things. Make it as simple and painless as possible, so that you don't have to spend hours on this unimportant stuff.
* Add the ability to write "programs" in natural language, like in Wolfram Alpha. For example, something like:
Import my EEG1.csv file. Tell me the average value of each channel over 10 seconds.
And maybe the file has columns "Time step (milliseconds)", "Channel 1", "Channel 2", etc.; and it infers that 10 seconds means you need to average over 10,000 rows.
* Add a data analysis "Assistant" to answer any questions you may have.
Anything else? I'm sure if there is, Google will think of it.
I think in the years ahead we will see a dramatic expansion in the use of machine learning and data analysis, now that you don't need large computational resources (Chromebook will suffice), and don't need to waste lots of time dealing with the technical issues that these libraries solve. I mean, basically, just about anybody out in the middle of the cornfields or somewhere can do very high level data analysis on their laptop now. It's like a spreadsheet for the 21st century -- and goes far, far beyond what was possible before.