The Minds Behind the Data

Revised Edition:

“Google took the 50 million most common search terms that Americans type and compared it the list with the CDC data on the spread of seasonal flu between 2003 and 2008. The idea was to identify areas infected by the flu virus by what people searched for on the internet. Others had tried to do this with internet search terms, but no one else had as much data, processing power, and statistical know-how as Google….Thus when the H1Nl crisis struck in 2009, Google’s system proved to be a more useful and timely indicator than government statistics with ‘their natural reporting lags. Public health ·officials were armed with valuable information.” – Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

The amount of information that Google contains on every person is an enormous compilation of information. The data can be dangerous if it is being used against us however, it is only as dangerous as the people behind the screens. Using the data for a greater purpose; to benefit humans is all up to us. If we put data into the right hands then the positive outcomes will outweigh the negative side effects. In the passage, Google demonstrated that by use of its information, we were able to design a formula for detecting the H1N1 virus, eventually helping to control and calm the pandemic. We have so much technology and information that could be potentially harmful, however, we have to realize the information itself is not the  problem. We, the people who make conscious decisions are the ones who make the choice. In Google’s case they helped save what would have been thousands of cases of H1N1.

Many of us are engineers here at Tech. We are the minds behind the technology and we can control the use of it. We are the ones who will use technology to benefit the human race. There are many people who fear that the change in technology has been for the worse. Even though many fear change, overall I believe it has had a positive effect. Data is a tool that is no different than a swiss army knife; we could use it to harm others or to help others, but the decision is up to us. We are now able to live longer, travel faster and communicate further with technological advances. Technology can be dangerous but with the right minds controlling it can lead to a better society ahead.

Original Edition:

“Google took the 50 million most common search terms that Americans type and compared it the list with the CDC data on the spread of seasonal flu between 2003 and 2008. The idea was to identify areas infected by the flu virus by what people searched for on the internet. Others had tried to do this with internet search terms, but no one else had as much data, processing power, and statistical know-how as Google….Thus when the H1Nl crisis struck in 2009, Google’s system proved to be a more useful and timely indicator than government statistics with ‘their natural reporting lags. Public health ·officials were armed with valuable information.” – Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

The amount of information Google contains on every human being is a dangerous thing to have. However, it is only as dangerous as the people behind the screens. In actuality, the information is arguably the most useful resource to mankind. In the passage, Google demonstrated that by use of its information, we were able to design a formula for detecting the H1N1 virus, eventually helping to control and calm the pandemic. We have so much technology and information that could be potentially harmful, however, we have to realize the information itself is not the problem. We, the people who make conscious decisions are the ones who make the choice. In Google’s case they helped save what would have been thousands of cases of H1N1.

Many of us are engineers here at Tech. We are the minds behind the technology and we can control the use of it. We are the ones who will use technology to benefit the human race. There are many people who fear that the change in technology has been for the worse. Even though many fear change, overall I believe it has had a positive effect. We are now able to live longer, travel faster and communicate farther with technological advances. Technology is a tool that can be dangerous but with the right minds controlling it can lead to a better society ahead.

2 thoughts on “The Minds Behind the Data”

  1. In the past, people paid much attention to the things that are tangible, obvious and being used everyday. However, with the advancement of technology and science, we are able to look into something more microscopic. Now we are going through a even bigger revolution on information technology that integrates the information, such as behavior, mood and geographic features, into the tools that we use to improve the efficiency of shipping and predict the human decision and habits. Yes, it is really easy to make people feel insecure when people realize they’re getting tracked every moment they use GPS. I strongly agree that the problem is not information itself but the way we use information and the purpose we’re trying to achieve. I hope that the benefits brought by booming field of information technology will outweigh the drawbacks when the the information is in the right hands.

  2. I completely agree with your point. I think that big data, itself, is a tool, and just like any other tool, it is only as harmful as the person wielding it. This data and these advances in technology have allowed us to make better uses out of our lives, meet more people, and have more fun. The only thing that we need to be careful about is who controls the data. It is weird to think about how so many of our peers at Tech will be responsible for this part of our lives.

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