Tag Archives: Kenneth Cukier

Data is Progress?

“In the future – and sooner than we may think – many aspects of our world will be augmented or replaced by computer systems that today are the sole purview of human judgment. Not just driving or match making, but even more complex tasks. After all, Amazon can recommend the ideal book, Google can rank the most relevant website, Facebook knows our likes, and LinkedIn divines who we know. The same technologies will be applied to diagnosing illnesses, recommending treatments, perhaps even identifying “criminals” before one actually commits a crime. Just as the internet radically changed the world by adding communications to computers,  so too will big data change fundamental aspects of life by giving it a quantitative dimension it never had before” – Big Data (page 12)

The quantity of data that our society produces and processes on a daily basis rivals that of any other time in human history. Information and knowledge have become not only readily available, but in many ways vital to the technological world we live in. Although this is opening the doors to endless possibilities, we must be cautious of the negative aspects of this growth as big data takes over many aspects of our lives.

Many of the major outlets that analyze information come through large companies that we as people use and interact with frequently. This may be referred to as big data or crowd sourced data. This data not only allows companies to reveal information about its individual users but it also allows them to apply their knowledge in more creative and constructive ways. While many uses for this data are still in the early stages, big data and crowd sourced information will soon become vital to our society, subsequently bringing the negative aspects of open information along with it.

The addition of large scale data collection also raises some concerns, despite the possible benefits. Privacy is slowly becoming a thing of the past, as corporations like Google and Facebook track everything from what we search to where we go for lunch. Google even knows where I live and has even given me direction to work without prior knowledge of my workplace. The same can be said for government agencies such as the NSA. In the world we live in, knowledge is power, power is money, and there is little legislature in place to prevent large corporate or governmental entities from abusing the use of this information.

While there is likely little that can be done to stop the upcoming transition into a big data driven society, individuals need to be aware of the drawbacks in order to best prevent abuse of the system. Only by reflecting on the drawbacks will we as a society be able to stop the growth of abusive data before it becomes an irreparable aspect of life.