Forum 2: Future of the Internet & Big Data

Big data seems to be driving the global future, from individual human lives to corporate, national and global decision making.

Read the report by Pew institute on the main theme of Internet future and big data and watch the TED talk on Big data , point out on the forum why you think big data is important, what are its social and political implications and use minimum two posts to respond to your class mates posts, where you can agree with them or disagree with their posts, do focus on the findings and comments you find in the report but you are free to refer to real world examples and any example or theme you find relevant to your discussion.

Link to report:Big Data

TED Talk:

Additional Reading and Video from Davos 2015: Big Data

Davos 2015 In Tech we trust:

The Pew report focuses on Two key arguments,

1)      Big Data are drawn together in ways that will improve social, political, and economic intelligence.

2)       Big Data could cause more problems than it solves between now and 2020.

You can use these two themes and develop an argument supporting both or taking one side of it and you do need to respond or comment on observations made by your peers

 You can start commenting from 01/27 to 02/01  


93 thoughts on “Forum 2: Future of the Internet & Big Data

    Andrew Wanamaker said:
    January 27, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Arthur Charles Clarke a British science fiction writer once said, “If by some miracle, a prophet could describe the future exactly as it was going to take place, his predictions would sound so far-fetched, so absurd, that everyone would laugh him to scorn (New Vision). To predict where we will be in 2020 will be nothing but a mere hypothetical guess. There is no way to predict whether underdelvoped countries backed by the IMF will be fully self sufficient or not. In the matter of five years or so the world could potentially change drastically. If we were to go back to the late 1800s change and development was at a much slower rate. Over the course of 100 years data can be transmitted thousands of miles in milliseconds. In 1850 if we had come up with a cure in the Untied States or a vaccination it would of taken days to reach a certain point on the other side of our globe. What makes data so much different is that it doesn’t fall under the category of a good or a service so there is no way to link it to a traditional economic analysis. Data in my opinion is going to be the best way to help bring the poorest countries that are struggling into our modern complex economy. From the video we learned that Data has helped allow companies to be more efficient and predict outcomes faster and smarter than our brains can as we learned from the Arthur Samuel computer chess programmer from IBM. But to what degree can this have an effect on our own lives? I am sure many of you guys would like to go into careers or have an idea of what you would like to do in the future but will that job be there? I have thought about going into accounting, medicine, finance, but will these jobs still be here in 2060 which would be a reasonable time to think we would retire? In my opinion why would a big four accounting firm use a human being to analyze tax reports and financial statements when a computer could reduce the liability for error? If you go into medicine why would you chose to use a human being to perform surgery when a robot could be tested to have a 99.9% success rate. Or why would JP Morgan hire an analyst to compile data and predictions off of linear regression when a computer could probably do it much faster, effectively, and accurately than a 22 year college graduate? These are all questions we have to look at, but as the TED talk finished up, we have learned that this new way of compiling data that appears to be growing at an exponential rate could in fact be dangerous, it is more a way of how we use it, because it could potentially ruin us, if we let a computer tell us how to live.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      January 29, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Hi Andrew, I was interested in your perspective of using Big Data as a development driver, I feel that is a very good observation can you elaborate on that?

      Mike Gellman said:
      February 1, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Andrew, I liked your post and agree with a lot of the ideas that you have concerning the future of Big Data. It is scary to think that machines are going to be able to do many tasks better than humans and it could lead to jobs being taken away from people. I personally don’t think that this will happen on a large scale in our lifetime due to the current limitations of computers with extracting insight and making judgement as mentioned in the article. As David D. Burstein said, ““As long as the growth of Big Data is coupled with growth of refined curation and curators it will be an asset,” and I agree that computers wont be “self-sufficient” (for lack of a better word) for decades to come. So I don’t think you should worry about it but your kids or their kids will definitely have to.

    Alita said:
    January 27, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I think big data is important for a number of reasons. On a personal note as an environmental enthusiast I like that there is less waste used in big data. “All of the files that Edward Snowden took fits on a memory stick the size of a finger nail.” (Kenneth Cukier) We are no longer recording all information on paper or other non-reusable resources.

    Big data in the ways that Tokyo is using it is fascinating but also a little freaky. The seat analysis using fidgets to prevent car theft, prevent accidents, and drunk-driving crashes is remarkable. However, the part of the Ted talk that spoke about a chess game learning and becoming unbeatable was a little scary. The idea that a man made thing can surpass man is not new, but its still unnerving. Machine learning is growing very rapidly, it can span from a basic search engine, to voice recognition software, to very advanced self-driving cars.

    Big data does have undeniable importance in spheres of life like medicine. The new technology helping to identify and kill cancerous cells are amazing, however, there are down sides to big data. Predictive policing is something I strongly am opposed to. Targeting locations, and individuals crosses lines of personal freedom given to us as US citizens. Safe guarding free will needs to be paramount while weighing the pros and cons of big data. Big data is also threatening our jobs. People’s jobs are being changed and eliminated all together. “The industrial revolution wasn’t very good if you were a horse… We must be the masters of this technology.” (Kenneth Cukier) We need to work on handling the data we collect. Tools take time to understand and master and this must happen again now. Information is harder to understand than basic or tangible tools, but we must learn and use information to understand our surroundings better.

    Recap on social and political implications:
    Social implications- Car safety, job loss, medical advances, predictive policing.
    Political implications- Environmental changes, policy issues regarding people’s freedoms and personal space, regulating predictive policing.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      January 29, 2015 at 10:12 am

      I feel most of the points you make in this comment are a mere summary of the TED talk, but i would like to see if you can elaborate on your initial observation of how good or bad it will be for the environment

        Alita said:
        February 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

        I read an article on by Dan Hounsell which weighed the pros and cons of converting big businesses paper documents to electronic formants. “The task of transferring the documents to an electronic format is not easy. The process is time-consuming, and finding funds to cover the labor is always challenging. But if managers can successfully make the case for investing the time and money in the process, it offers the hope of reducing paper use. Just as importantly, it gives managers and technicians easier access to valuable data.”(Hounsell) While the coast of such an undertaking is daunting, Hounsell made a case for the long term benefits of going paper free. In the long run it will save money, be better for the environment and reduce the companies carbon footprints, and be a faster more easily accessible store of information.
        Big Data in another way is also helping the environment. By using advanced technology tree conservation in the rain forests can now be monitored and patrolled more closely.

        Grace Segrave said:
        February 1, 2015 at 2:56 pm

        I agree about the environmental aspect of the Big Data that you brought up. I think that maybe this Big Data concept could help us to reduce our uses of non-reusable resources but I wonder if all the stimulation from the technological will just create another problem. The electricity and signals might affect the environment or animal patterns. A study done in Europe showed us that Honey Bees were highly affected by all the singular data and as Barnes states “more information, the challenge of detecting the can be even larger”. I wonder what all these signals from electricity will do to our environment as we search for them and use them.

      Zoë Kagan said:
      January 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      It is very interesting to ponder the technological advances about which you wrote concerning machine learning. Cukier’s TED Talk was effective as a discussion of Big Data which included many positives and negatives. Machine learning is of course included on both sides. While something like vehicle safety could be a pro like the self-driving car model, it could also be a con, per se. Even over just our lifetimes, we have seen cars progress from having a tape deck as a special feature to having GPS built into the dashboard. It is strange to think that the GPS that directs me in a car to and from St. Lawrence might evolve into a tool that literally drives me without my assistance other than telling it where to go. As you said, it is a bit unnerving to examine how a human-created product could surpass humans. In Cukier’s discussion of predictive policing, and other unnerving possible down-sides of Big Data, it is interesting to examine his example of possible solutions. You seem to agree with Cukier in the idea that as we progress with Big Data, we absolutely must control it. Cukier’s point is perhaps best expressed in his statement that “moral choice” may be the most problematic part of Big Data that we may face. It seems though that he feels that this will be possible. Perhaps he is just being optimistic about the potential of Big Data, but I am not so sure that moral choice will always be first and foremost in human use of Big Data.

    Andrew Wanamaker said:
    January 27, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I agree with your statement regarding data collection to target locations for “predictive policing”. This does in fact cross the moral threshold of our constitution and invade the privacy of our Citizens. I was able to do a little research about predictive policing off of the National Institute of Justice website. Our Government believes that by using a two pronged approach of applying analytics to data sets in conjunction with intervention models the law enforcement can predict what and where something is going to happen. Where I believe this truly can become a problem is in a setting at which a police officer is patrolling a certain block at a specific time in anticipation that there are high odds of a burglary to take place. Say a man walks out of an apartment because he breaks up with his girlfriend and he is carrying a large flat screen television or even carrying an XBOX out and the police officer stereotypes him because he is African American and doesn’t look to be well dressed. Does the police officer have the right to target the man who indeed is innocent? Or is that stereotyping and predicting a false crime that we are spending money on by having a police officer wait and monitor? This is where I disagree with the tactic because it violates our fourth amendment and I think that there will be a lot of upset people that may be unfairly arrested or harassed by certain law enforcement officials that act out of oath.

      Alita said:
      January 27, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      I agree with your ideas and feel that the notion of a police state has taken on a more personal and emotional meaning in loo of recent police misconduct events in our country. However, while I agree most people in the US would feel violated if they truly understood the meaning of big data, given circumstances the government could win out here. Take for example the Patriot Act. In light of terror attacks or other acts of horror we as a nation have a track record to give up all personal freedoms in the name of safely provided to us from the government.

    cyberoutpost responded:
    January 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Alita and Andrew, this is a good start I like the critical insights you are bringing out

    Louie Freda said:
    January 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Andrew, I thought you presented yourself well. I too worry that the advance in technology can eliminate future employment opportunities.
    Alita, great point about the beneficial environmental impact of big data. I never thought about that aspect of big data.
    In general however big data scares me. I think the things we fear the most are the unknowns. I like to consider myself a some-what knowledgeable citizen but I’m not sure what I am agreeing to when I accept Facebook’s, Instagram’s, or Twitter’s private policy agreement. That is just the tip of the data-collecting iceberg; the uncertainty of who has accesses to my privacy is unsettling. I believe that big-data can and currently is being used to improve the human condition. What worries me the most is mentioned at the 12:30 mark of the video. Big-data could use algorithms that predict what we are about to do and we may be held accountable before we have actually acted. Human emotions can run high, we often say and think things that we don’t truly mean. Normally we are able to listen to reason and calm down, but if we are held accountable before we can listen to the voice of reason, who knows what might happen…

      cyberoutpost responded:
      January 29, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Louie it is interesting to further engage with the privacy policy debate here, and you can bring some observations from these privacy policies which you can further argue this case

        Louie Freda said:
        January 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm

        I thought the synopsis of “In Tech We Trust” was brilliant. I agree with their conclusion that we need a sort of Bill of Rights before we continue progressing with Big Data. “A set of universal data protection principles was called for. First, consent must always be requested and granted. Second, how personal data is used must be fully transparent. Third, heightened accountability must accompany higher levels of data access.” I believe the only way to accomplish these goals is through existing governments in the UN, a sort “Universal Declaration of Human Data Rights” Obviously this will be challenging. As Snowden highlighted, sometimes it is the governments themselves who are abusing our rights through Big Data. The other obvious challenge is transparency. In the US the government is “classify crazy”; we classify documents to avoid political backlash instead of for reasons of national security. With Big Data I believe it would take a concerted effort to get governments to be transparent about what information they are obtaining and using and why.

    Michael Edson said:
    January 28, 2015 at 1:05 am

    I agree with you all about how big data will important in society. As said in the reading Jeff Jarvis says that with Big Data “[Google] has found the ability to track the outbreak of the flu before health officials could and they believe that by similarly tracking the pandemic, millions of lives could be saved.” This is a positive benefit with having big data. It can lead to treating cancer, fixing economic crisis, but these are the positives. What about the negatives with big data?

    The thing that worried me the most was when listening to the TED talk. When Kenneth Cukier mentioned the computer started to learn how to master the chess game and beat the human. That is amazing in technology but if technology is going to get smarter everyday and at a faster rate than humans can learn what will be our consequences? The biggest consequence I see is with robots. If robots in the next five years could have big data they will be more efficient than humans. Our work force unemployment will increase and this will lead us to an economic down turn. With big data what if a system gets smart, like the computer learning to beat the human in chess, and the system could over ride decision for a company or government.

    I don’t seeing big data being used for the wrong uses but we need to start putting laws into place to make sure that big data isn’t being used for the wrong reason. Data can be helpful but we want to make sure that with data we do not use it for the harm of citizens in the world.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      January 29, 2015 at 10:15 am

      Michael the point of machine learning and unemployment is a good observation you even can further your argument on this matter

      casega12 said:
      February 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      I share the same concerns with you Michael. With the progression that robots have already made, their potential seems to be limitless. I do think it is important to question whether we are willing to accept this compromise in order to reap the benefits. In regards to machine learning, I am curious on the progression that this will make in the future. We developed robots to fix our own problems. If unemployment continues to grow (very likely) will we be able to use the robots to address this issue instead of spreading the problem?

      Ibahim Khan said:
      February 1, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Michael like some of the other class mates you have also mentioned the growing fear of unemployment due to machines getting smarter than humans. I agree with it, if robots actually do start contributing in increasing unemployment, this would not be suitable for the economy. Japan is already looking up to a robotic future. Since years they have been making robots with best efforts being made to make robots act and look as close as possible to a regular human being. Robots are being programmed to have emotions such as anger, fear, happiness, sadness and etc. In an article, I read that Japan has robots serving as receptionists, vacuuming office corridors and spoon-feeding the elderly. With in years, if this trends keeps continuing and spreads all around the world, unemployment issue could become a severe problem.
      This is why I also agree with your idea of having certain laws that keep a check on such incidents and prevent them from happening. More importantly, to make sure that data is not being used for the wrong reason to harm the citizens of the world as you have mentioned above.

        Nick Ford said:
        February 2, 2015 at 8:07 am

        Ibahim, I completely agree with you. With the increase of machine learning and technological advancements unemployment can become a huge issue in our future society. When I look at Japan and the technological advancements being made towards a robotic future two things come to mind: (1) the anthropomorphic robots in the movie “I, Robot” who are used as benefactors to society and how eventually the robots became smarter than the people who created them. The robots continuously learned from the people they worked for and machine learning took place, eventually gaining enough intelligence to rebel against the people. (2) The second thing that comes to mind when we talk about machine learning is the use of this evolving technology of medicine and treatment. When I think of this idea and advancement, I think of the medical healing machines in the movie “Elysium.” In Elysium, the rich society has medical healing machines that can cure and treat any sickness from a cold to cancer and can regenerate any disfunction or injury of the human body. It is scary to think how eventually our society can be run by robotics, but at the same time it is amazing how far technology has come.

    Max Johnson said:
    January 28, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I share the same fear of Louie, Alita,and Andrew that big data will compromise our freedom to privacy. I thought Louie made a good point about the private policy agreements we all sign when forming our social media accounts. I too never pay much attention or even take the time to read those agreements and now I beginning to wonder how much of my personal information has been collected through big data and does that compromise my privacy. Even though this is concerning, I still think big data is important, especially for our national security. If the use of big data can predict where a terrorist attack will occur but at the cost of our general privacy that is fine by me.

      Reed Mcleod said:
      January 30, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      In regards to the collection of general privacy I agree with you. Even without the use of big data I don’t believe it would be very hard to find my basic knowledge about myself (addresses, telephone, birthdate). What I am generally concerned about is the collection of private information that involves my finances and personal messages. Although it is essential to combat domestic terrorist attacks, I believe a line should be drawn. To where that line will be drawn is still a complete mystery and mostly likely will be drawn just far enough for specific institutions to benefit from it.

    Joe said:
    January 28, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Big data has obviously become an important part of todays society. As Alita mentioned earlier it obviously has better implications for the environment than previous forms of paper communication. The Internet has also created a very important social network, that allows for new types of human interaction, and more efficient ways to report news and personal information. Like we heard in class, events that are falsely reported can be corrected in a matter of seconds with one simple social media post.
    However as big data grows I fear the future of its capabilities. The Pew article points out a few things that helped me get to this conclusion. The output of information that big data and the internet produces, generally tends to be deemed accurate by those who read it. If misinformation is posted by institutions with a great deal of power over big data, they could be skewing the outlook on certain things. This also scares me in regard to how institutions like national security are viewing our data. Everything we post in our data has the potential to be accessed by some other institution aiming to do something with it. With that being said, they can target specific demographic groups, like the rich, and bas there big data off of them. Not only does this not consider the poorer side of our country without access to data, but it makes for a self serving institution that targets people strictly to have them consume more. Essentially big data could widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country which I would deem as “bad for society”.

      Reed Mcleod said:
      January 28, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Whether you are for it are completely against it, big data is here and will only exponentially develop in the up coming years. Now why is it important? As described in the Ted Talk, big data will benefit society in multiple ways. Such as predicting a car crash to alert the drowsy driver or or finding a cancer causing cell before the human eye can even target it. There are countless scenarios where big data will eliminate the aspect of human error. As found in the Pew research, there is a divide in beliefs whether big data will be wholly beneficial to all. For those who participated in the survey, 39% percent view the future of big data in a negative light. Described in the passage, these participants believe institutions will take advantage of the big data power for their own personal agendas.
      I believe it is fairly pointless to resists the development of big data. It is human nature to progress in society, and big data is the current tool for this. Instead, I believe the debate should focus on who sets the rules for big data. Currently, the future of big data is in the hands of large corporations and governments. I question whether these institutions have the right agendas for pursuing big data. The majority of controversies that root from big data are moral issues. Such as the predictive policing and job unemployment as mentioned above. In regard to the moral issues raise by big data, all opinions should be involved and considered, ranging from specialist in philosophy to the sciences.

        cyberoutpost responded:
        January 29, 2015 at 10:19 am

        you have made some good comments and clear insights you can actually take them on separately in your next rounds of comments like the impact of who controls big data

        Zoë Kagan said:
        January 30, 2015 at 9:51 pm

        I agree with your opening statement that big data is here. It has been here, it will continue to progress as we do and we will be interacting with it for the foreseeable future. Your insights on its benefits are also useful. It is interesting also to assess the Pew survey that you mentioned along with the potential controllers of big data. The Pew Research Center found that a large fraction of participants in the survey were not enthusiastic for the future of big data, which could reflect upon who currently controls big data, or who we can foresee will. This will ultimately come down to which governments have the most resources in access to big data and security with which to control it. Depending on for what use, big data could become a government tool.

        cyberoutpost responded:
        February 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm

        Will it just come down to the governments or do you see the ownership of big data will be dispersed among many other actors from private companies, research consultancies even among Universities as they do a lot of research? why do we say for example Stanford and Harvard are top universities ? not just because of their education standards but the huge research money and information they access and process

      cyberoutpost responded:
      January 29, 2015 at 10:16 am

      I was impressed with the point about Bid Data manipulation and misinterpretation, you actually can look at some instances oh where or how it happens

        Reed Mcleod said:
        January 29, 2015 at 11:10 am

        After some brief research it seems that Target has taken a lot of heat for their use of big data. One example I found dealt with teenager who bought numerous baby related products from their store. After purchasing the items, Target collected her data and sent coupons for baby and pregnancy products to her house, assuming she would be back for more purchases. Since this particular teenager was still living with her parents, her father actually received the coupons advertising baby related products. Concerned on why his family would be receiving these coupons. Long story short, Target was aware that the teenager was pregnant even before the father knew. Eventually, Target was also the reason that the father knew her daughter was pregnant.

        Reed Mcleod said:
        January 29, 2015 at 11:16 am

        Another Target example that seems to be more intrusive/damaging was when a group of hackers accessed valuable information of customers (such as credit card numbers/addresses/telephone numbers). This particular example exposes another dark shadow that comes with big data. Big corporations and governments are not the only ones who benefit from big data. The storage of massive data has security issues that many individuals/organizations will take advantage off. The only difference between these hackers and old fashion thieves is that the hackers do not even have to leave their computer chairs to do massive damage.

        cyberoutpost responded:
        January 29, 2015 at 12:18 pm

        The Target example is a good mini case, about big data retention responsibility and vulnerability

    rgscoo11 said:
    January 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Big data is fantasizing with lots of benefits that have been mentioned by many of you already. The way big data is being used to possibly prevent car accidents is an obvious plus. Think about how great it would be if in the future car crashes were almost nonexistent. Also, big data can lead to innovation and can change society for the better, if used correctly. But like everyone else, big data scares me. I wonder how much the government or just some hacker could find out about us by accessing our internet history, cell phone records, and other data collecting devices that we use in everyday life. Could a google search that someone made 5 years ago affect the way society views them? To me, humans are complex beings that cannot be defined by big data. Big data could be used for good and societal growth as a whole but there is no denying that it could also prevent us our rights of freedom as citizens of America. Laws need to be put in place and followed or else we could end up using big data to harm us.
    For some reason I keep thinking about Terminator and robots taking over humans. Lets make sure that doesn’t happen. We will have to wait and see what the world is like in 2029 (when terminator takes place) to see if their prediction of robot take over was accurate.
    Obviously I think this is highly unlike and I write it jokingly but we wont see the affects of big data collection for a couple of years. Then we will truly know the affects that big data could have on our society. Overall, big data will change the world, I just have no idea if it will help or hurt us as a society.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      January 29, 2015 at 10:17 am

      I feel you made some interesting observations but it would be better if you engage with the content for reading and viewing and try to be more focused on the debate rather than being abstract

      Nick Ford said:
      February 2, 2015 at 12:56 am

      Rob, I completely agree, the method of gathering big data is a scary thing to think about. Last semester in my New Media, Conflict, and Control class we discussed the very issues of corporate surveillance of Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The surveillance methods that the government and major corporations have over social media and other technologies are equivalent to the panoptical prison system. Panopticism is where a person surveilling can see everything and everyone, but the prisoners do not know if they are being watched. Its scary to think that everything we do on the Internet is constantly being surveilled and analyzed by those in power. We are being treated like criminals and our personal privacy is being completely stolen from us.

        houseofwagner said:
        February 2, 2015 at 10:39 am

        Nick, this semester I am currently enrolled in a class called Web in Real Life. We have started to talk about similar issues that were raised in your New Media, Conflict, and Control class. From the amount of time our society spends on the Internet to the different surveillance methods preformed by the government. I feel like as of right now Big Data and surveillance methods are a double-edged sword. As Reed said earlier, big data is only going to increase and we must accept this as a society, but there should be some guidelines. While technology trickles into more areas of our culture, surveillance will only increase. Some people say, including President Obama that the government’s spying programs help the fight against terrorism and ensure America’s safety. This is where I believe big data and surveillance is a good thing. I honestly feel safer knowing we as a country have an enormous amount of data to analyze and help protect us. However, I also agree with you that the panoptical prison system is scary. They’re always watching a constant move and could take advantage of the amount of power they have.

    Michael Edson said:
    January 28, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    An interesting quote I found in the PEW article was from Daren C. Brabham. He says “Our reliance on algorithms is already proven to be problematic, evidenced by the fickle nature of the stock markets and other things. As we keep funneling the best and brightest mathematicians into algorithm-focused professions (like finance), we’ll continue to abstract real labor and real human concerns further away from real consequences and circumstances. This is a massive ethical problem, too.” Big Data will take away human labor. There will be a greater concern in the future with the economy since there will be less labor with machines doing human jobs. If large distributing companies like Anheuser- Busch; Procter and Gamble; General Electric and companies with over 100,000 employees starting to use big data to solve problems and start taking over assembly lines. Thousand of jobs will be lost. Big Data as I see it can find problems with real material but can’t fix the real problems. Data will always identify the problem but humans are the ones going to be able to fix the problems.

    Grace Segrave said:
    January 29, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Big data only makes me think that we are altering the way in which humans interact with the world. I see Big Data as a way now in which technology will begin to interact with the world, not the latter. Our errors, our judgments, will not be necessary anymore. In fact it will be the opposite. I think that machines or computers would/could begin to tell us what we need to do in order to have an error free life. If everything is programmed to make us think, then does that leave us prisoners to the technology? Do we then not live by the rules of trial and errors? If we cannot approach that idea and theory because technology guides us then where does that leave our inhibitions? In the end, Big Data makes me worry that we will not push the boundaries of life anymore because what we do, might be stopped or what we want, will already be predicted. Humans will not have to critically think on their own because machines will simply do the task better.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      January 29, 2015 at 10:20 am

      These are interesting observations but you can really make some clear analysis and arguments engaging with the reading content, video or the extra content which will make your critiques pretty clear

    Cam Hickey said:
    January 29, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    The article was insightful in how it introduced us to big data, although it also presented us with ideas of how we may be affected negatively and positively from the future use of big data. Am I scared of what might come from the increased use of big data? Absolutely, but how can we not take a step forward as human beings and not try to take advantage of a tool like big data that can only further our development. With the progress of big data there will be set backs, and some people will use big data as a tool to help themselves economically, when in reality it should be used as more of a social element to help improve the lives of people in developing countries. Oscar Gandy made a point in the article that I agreed with which was, “If ‘Big Data’ could be used primarily for social benefit, rather than the pursuit of profit (and the social-control systems that support that effort), then I could ‘sign on’ to the data-driven future and its expression through the Internet of Things.” My fear is that big data has the ability to corrupt many of our economic and political institutions whether that be manipulating markets or focusing on problems that will generate the most votes. Big Data can do so much, but if we are given such a powerful tool we need to be able to handle it, and use it to fight problems like poverty, disease and war. Find the data that we need to help develop these countries socially and economically, but do not use it to widen the wallets of some of the already wealthiest corporations and countries.

      Michael Edson said:
      January 30, 2015 at 4:17 am

      I agree with you Cam about how we should try to make the step of using Big Data. We have not tried it yet and it could be more beneficial than detrimental to society. There is still some disagreement that I have with Big Data. Humans can now be exposed and generalized by companies. What would be a reasonable solution to make sure that we still have privacy on the internet and not be exposed?

        Cam Hickey said:
        January 30, 2015 at 2:16 pm

        I liked your question Mike, but it will be hard to tell what will be done in the future to protect our privacy on the internet with the increased use of big data. I think that as the world continues to be shaped by the increased use of the internet and big data we will start to see policy that is enacted to help protect us and our privacy online. Laws should be placed to regulate how these companies can access certain information and what they can do with it. Although in today’s world it may be tough to set regulations on the internet, if some are using big data to take advantage of others we may need government interactions to protect what companies can find and use.

      Alita said:
      February 1, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      I agree with you concerns about personal privacy but feel these risks are out weighted by the positive results of big data already. The use of this data in third world countries to help fight and prevent diseases is already very prevalent and being used to help millions. “CIMS (Center for Innovative Management Studies) researchers and faculty will use supercomputing and natural-language processing software to comb through a curated, giant database containing a substantial amount of the world’s information pertinent to TB-diagnostics.”( The article goes into more detail about how the areas with the most TB outbreaks occur in middle to lower class areas and big data can coast effectively address these issues.

      Mike Gellman said:
      February 1, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Cam I agree with you that Big Data could lead to great advances or be very detrimental to society. I really liked your view that Big Data could be used to help the people of developing countries .I also think that Big Data could be used to help people, especially those in poverty. I was wondering, with your seemingly liberal views for data in terms of developing countries, to what extent would you allow these companies you talk about to use data for their own personal gain? How much access do you think they should be allowed to people’s personal data?

    Zoë Kagan said:
    January 30, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Big Data absolutely has the potential to improve social, political, and economic intelligence. We know that this is true by the ways that it affects us and how we see it affect others. In a world that is growing to be more globalized everyday, the use of big data as a tool will be both effective and indispensable. In the social aspect, we can all relate to the interconnectedness that we have through networks and apps like Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. From my home screen on my iPhone, I am reminded that I participate in using all of these apps, and others such as Snapchat and Amazon, usually everyday. I willingly give out plenty of information readily, yet I contribute such a relatively small portion of each site’s consumer data. It is interesting to think of this contradiction as information that I give and receive is so individualized but perhaps commonplace relative to billions of other users. As Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, stated in this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, “a personalized internet is a better internet.” This of course, does not come without strings attached. I also have realized these strings personally. Amazon sends me emails not only based on items that I have already ordered, but now based on items that I have only searched for and perused through the app or the website. Similarly, Facebook uses my location information to offer me personalized products through on-site advertisements. Mayer argues that we already share a lot of information off the internet in order to do everyday things of which she provides examples: We give a lot of information about our appearance, for example, just to be able to drive a car. To our employers, we document much of our information as well (Mayer). Big Data will progress to be something that is more commonly understood as something we participate in, like our other exchanges of information, and it will improve our lives. In another positive outlook on the potential of Big Data, Hal Varian, chief economist at Google expressed the benefits of its uses by explaining that “nearly every large company has a real-time data warehouse and has more timely data on the economy than our government agencies. In the next decade we will see a public/private partnership that allows the government to take advantage of some of these private sector data stores. This is likely to lead to a better informed, more pro-active fiscal and monetary policy” (Pew Research Center). As expressed by many, this issue does present concern about trust. I understand that I perhaps trust Facebook too much with my personal information and hundreds of pictures. Amazon is probably using an algorithm to try to sell me more offers on pens right now. The world is changing this way; there is no way to go against Big Data. As Kenneth Cukier stated during his TED Talk, the issue with privacy and Big Data now is more about “the challenge [of] safeguarding free will, moral choice…[and] human agency.”

      Joe said:
      February 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Hey Zoe, I really enjoyed reading your post, I thought you did a nice job of pointing out some of the key topics surrounding big data. I particularly liked the quote you provided from Hal Varian “nearly every large company has a real-time data warehouse and has more timely data on the economy than our government agencies. In the next decade we will see a public/private partnership that allows the government to take advantage of some of these private sector data stores. This is likely to lead to a better informed, more pro-active fiscal and monetary policy”. While this is definitely something that is beneficiary to our society, it also raises some concerns for me. If companies have more timely data on the economy than our government agencies, they now have so much power and it is there duty to do the right thing with that information. In situations like this, big data is now giving companies an edge on our societal mesh (US government). It is up to these companies to make the right decisions and abide by the law. The temptation to use that information in an illegal manner could definitely present itself, which would make for a situation in which big companies are undermining our federal government.

        Zoë said:
        February 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

        I think your concerns are valid, Joe. I suppose this is what the optimistic TED Talk meant as far as moral judgement being important in the future of Big Data. I am not sure if it is valid however to be so optimistic when large corporations may have enough power in data to control government.

        Nick Ford said:
        February 2, 2015 at 1:15 am

        Joe, you made a great point about big companies undermining our federal government due to more timely data. Last semester in my New Media, Conflict, and Control class we touched on a similar issue. We talked about the illegal works of the US government in retrieving data through major corporate databases and how they abuse their power. In 2004, at the AT&T office in San Francisco, the US National Security Agency (NSA) built a secret room at the facility to have access to all of the e-mail and phone traffic of the facility, where it was intercepted and transmitted for further analysis. Due to this case and many more, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a report in 2011 revealing that intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed. The report stated that as many as 40,000 violations of law have occurred from 2001 to 2008 by government agencies.

    Andrew Wanamaker said:
    January 31, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    I agree with you Zoe, I think that data is important but there has to be a balance. I would suspect that similar to your prediction to what Amazon is doing to try and sell more pens goes hand in hand with my prediction with what car companies are doing to help them efficiently produce a certain amount of cars based on peoples build a car preferences online. It would be pretty cool if a company like Jeep was able to save on production costs and efficiently produce the ideal inventory based on what people build and price. It could potentially save the company money but also create more consumer utility. That is the social aspect which would help improve ones happiness because I am sure there are people who are stuck with a certain model or color that they actually may be unhappy with, but did not really have a choice. If a company could use that type of strategy people’s preferences are used in an ethical matter and I would not constitute that crossing the threshold between privacy and observation.

      Michael Edson said:
      February 1, 2015 at 2:27 am

      I agree with you Andrew about if companies like jeep could use data to help people with personal preference but still have the privacy on the internet. It would be nice to have a company like Walmart to have data to know what is popular to sell so that they can have enough stock of certain goods. Maybe when it comes with big data if companies like Walmart wanted to know information about how many people will buy a certain product they could give out surveys but people don’t voluntary take surveys. This when big data is useful, companies can be secretive about taking people’s personal information online and see there buying patterns. It is weird but this is how companies work. Companies want the upper hand in the market so that people can buy more of their products. The only way I see that if people want to protect themselves from big data is not to be on the internet. Which I don’t think many people will do so we as a society are going to have to accept big data for all the good it will bring us and the bad that will come with it as well.

        Kyle Swartz said:
        February 1, 2015 at 1:15 pm

        I agree with you Michael and Andrew on companies using big data to create profiles for consumer buying habits, however I do not believe that the collection of big data with companies such as Jeep and Walmart has to include some loss of personal information. I see the problem with voluntary surveys because people tend not to complete them even with incentive but the collection of data can always be anonymous. For example, a consumer can go into Walmart and buy products which are recorded at the checkout counter by the same bar code reader that scans products for pricing. The data could then be used to figure out how much of a product the store needs to stock up on without ever collecting personal information. I also agree with you Michael that its extremely hard to keep personal information safe while using the internet and big data collected online will always carry the price of losing some sort of personal information.

        cyberoutpost responded:
        February 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm

        Kyle it would be nice to see what you feel about the reading content and expert ideas about Big Data, you also can develop the discussion along with Michael about the coming death of Privacy

      Zoë said:
      February 1, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Your example about car companies and consumer satisfaction is very interesting. Also it is important to note that efficiency could be improved. That point that you brought up is very interesting when pairing the future of big data with the future of environmental consciousness. It could however go the wrong way and aid corporations in creating monopolies, leaving consumers with less choice according to their profit margins.

    Kyle Swartz said:
    February 1, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Kenneth Cukier, in the Ted Talk video, makes the argument that unemployment rates will increase substantially with increased use of Big Data collection. He used the example of the industrial revolution taking jobs away from blue collar workers and proposes that Big Data collection will lower employment rates and in some cases completely replace the jobs of well educated people. I do not believe that this is the case for the same reason that David Court writes about in his article “Getting Big Impact from Big Data.” The Jobs that Kenneth Cukier believes will be replaced by big data collection will not be replaced but rather transformed into new jobs. There will always be a job market for these educated individuals even if Big Data takes over part or much of their job. With regard to the ensuing death of Privacy, I must say that it is completely inevitable. Already companies like google and apple know so much about each and every one of us, it is scary to think that profiles are being added to with every click made on different websites. Yes personal information is technically ours, but that isn’t stopping anyone from reaching out and gaining access to it. “What is clear is that users own their data and should have control of how their data is used” -Marissa Mayer. The problem is allowing users to manage that control over their personal information and cracking down on companies that abuse their power to collect private information on individuals. I believe that the Bill of rights idea for governance of information online is a good start to limiting the collection of personal information.

      Zayn Thompson said:
      February 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      Kyle, I agree with you that privacy’s demise is something that we have to face. With an already compromised private life, Big Data will just keeping contributing to its demise. I think that privacy is something that we should be willing to give up in order to live better, safer lives. I would be more than willing to allow my location, be it phone or something else, to be tracked.
      Controlling sensitive information about ourselves is definitely that will be a much-discussed topic among governments, especially considering its rapid rise as major components of our everyday lives.

      Nick Moffitt said:
      February 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Kyle, I agree that with the advancement of technology and the use of big data unemployment will rise. However, with the chance of eliminating deaths due to cancer or car accidents and cleaning up crime within society don’t you think its worth continuing to pursue big data?

    Joe said:
    February 1, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    The Ted talk video raised some great points surrounding Big Data. I believe that the information presented by Kenneth Cukier was presented in a positive light. Although he did mention the concern that big data would eliminate jobs and other issues regarding big data, one cannot help but to think that the positives will outweigh the negatives in the long run. Big Data has the potential to save lives. The part in the video where he talks about the computer locating the 10 different signs of cancerous cells and the efficiency of using data to locate it impressed me. Personally I would be willing to have a chemist lose his job if a computer could do a better job than he could at it. There is so much good that can come from Big Data, it just has to be used in the correct ways. The sensors in the seats of a car identifying someone’s posture was another great use of Big Data. Socially we could see a safer society using this kind of Data. Car theft would most likely decline because the incentive to steal a car would drop immediately. The car would shut down and you would just be putting yourself in a situation in which you would get into trouble with the law. I think it is essential that our government gains people that know how to use big data. As mentioned in class, a lot of people in government today are not tech savvy. Kenneth Cukier compared big data to fire in the early ages of mankind. We need to have a government infrastructure that processes big data and keeps its uses safe and efficient, otherwise we run the risk of getting “burned”.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      February 1, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      You could discuss more about big data implications on government which seems to really interest you

        Joe said:
        February 1, 2015 at 10:42 pm

        Sure, upon further research regarding big data and the implications on government, I was reading about how releasing large amounts of government data leads to a more transparent form of open government, from Berkley Law and Technology. With this, a growing concern is civil rights in the era of big data. The White House’s advisor John Podesta recently flagged Civil Rights (regarding big data sets) as a key problem in a recent policy review. The problem is said to be that many applications that make daily life activities easier, like applications regarding traffic, public transportation, and crime information release large government data sets that often contain information about individuals, license plate numbers, and car descriptions. While this may seem like a minor flaw, it can have some real consequence in regards to human rights.
        According to the White House website, majority of the nation who took a survey regarding Big Data and Privacy Review agree that the internet is an area of major concern. Many people voiced there concerns about government use of and collection of data. Specifically focusing on concerns about protecting privacy, respecting personal data, and strengthening data security practices. It seems from a government stand point that there is much to do regarding big data in order to make it a safer and more useful practice, but it is moving to fast for our government to catch up with it. I believe that it will be a problem in our country until we are able to fully understand and control it.

    Mike Gellman said:
    February 1, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Big data is clearly a big part of society and will most likely become an even bigger part in the future. With Big Data comes both benefits and problems, some of which are not even here yet. The data discussed in the TED talk about stopping car accidents by recognizing driver fatigue is clearly a good thing because it will help save lives. On the other hand, the lack of personal privacy caused by the use of Big Data would be a bad thing especially if it is exploited by companies for economic profit. The tech industry has advanced at an incredible rate causing many great advances but also forcing the world to cope with the resulting complications.
    When used correctly Big Data is one of the best tools for helping the masses by being able to see trends and streamline aid by reducing redundancies. Governments seem to have already seen this as the US had decided to spend more than $200 million to help the government organize and analyze large amounts of data. The US predicts that by using Big Data they could, “[reduce] national health care by about 8%,” (PowResearchCenter). Advances like this would be obviously be great and could really help nations be more efficient with their expenditures. Jeff Jarvis backs up this point in the article by saying that using Big Data will help governments do things like track outbreaks of illnesses and it will then help them control it. I also agree with his point about the privacy threat that comes along with Big Data. He says, “Such moral panics have occurred often thanks to changes in technology…But the moral of the story remains: there is value to be found in this data, value in our newfound publicness” (PowResearchCenter). I complete agree that this is just another example of people freaking out over something new. Look at how Rock and Roll was viewed in the 1960’s; it was banned from the radio in places like England. Now most parents would rather have their kids listen to rock compared to other genres like rap. Things like this have a way of sorting themselves out, all it takes is time. Now I’m not saying some of the concern is not warranted. There is a ton of data about people out on the internet today. One worry about having all this data out is that, “Those who crunch Big Data with algorithms might draw the wrong conclusions about who someone is, how she might behave in the future,and how to apply the correlations that will emerge in the data analysis,” (PowResearcCenter). To me, this is a fair concern because it could hurt someone unfairly. Hopefully, these concerns will be addressed and Big Data will be used responsibly.

      Cam Hickey said:
      February 2, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      Hey Mike, i agree with your comment and you had some great points on ways that big data can help us in health care and preventing accidents. Although you discussed this briefly, can you bring up any specific examples of how the increased use of big data may be detrimental for our society. Of course there are positives but one must look at some of the negatives of using big data to fully understand what we are giving up when big data can access all of our information.

        Mike Gellman said:
        February 2, 2015 at 7:43 pm

        Thanks for the question Cam! Big Data, like any other political or economic tool, can be abused if the right regulations are not put in place. Big Data is one of the best tools for companies that are looking to identify trends and then make a profit off exploiting those trends. With more and more of people’s information being on the internet it will be up to governments to make sure that companies don’t unfairly seize and use this information.

    Louie Freda said:
    February 1, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    “Not everyone realizes that Google makes 28% of its revenue through its Adsense program, which shows different ads to different users on the basis of different search terms. Better personalization in terms of display ads is a function of prediction. Anticipating user behaviors, questions, and moods, strikes at the very heart of what Google’s mission to ‘organize the world’s information.” This was an incredible static for me, I had no idea about the extent or even the existence of Google’s prediction programs. In class we listened to a former CTO speak at a TED Talk, currently our CTO is Megan Smith. According to the white house website “Smith was the VP of New Business Development at Google, where she managed early-stage partnerships, pilot explorations, and technology licensing globally across engineering and product teams.” How much influence does Google have inside the government? Are we better off with Google or a governmental organization responsible to “organize the world’s information”.

      Zayn Thompson said:
      February 1, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      Good question, Louie. Google has actually been becoming more increasing involved in the government, and more specifically lobbying. Ten years ago, Google spent $311 million on lobbying. Since then, they have dramatically increased their contributions, up to $18 billion in 2012, and that number is and will continue to increase. So, yes, they do have a lot of influence in the government and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Because technology is becoming a big topic of discussion, it makes sense that a company like Google would be right in the middle of it.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      February 1, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      I like the critical insights you raise stimulates the debate!

        Grace Segrave said:
        February 1, 2015 at 11:24 pm

        The stats that Louis and Zayn brought up about google are very true and almost scary. Google has the ability to manipulate and or work the government. The statements from Jeff Jarvis “ Google’s founders have urged government regulators not to require them to quickly delete searches because, in their patterns and anomalies, they have found the ability to track the outbreak of the flu before health officials could and they believe that by similarly tracking a pandemic, millions of lives could be saved”. This statement shows that Google not only has the ability to be part of the government but also the ability inquire on government behaviors. It is also nuts that google also has the power to be the health service as well. Google and not just a scientific research center can figure out exactly when and how a plague could occur and all without test and procedures. It feels like in the end, maybe it will be google and the Big Data that could shape the way our world is going just as much as the government since the health and knowledge of US citizens are everything in today’s day and age.

      Joe said:
      February 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Louie, that is a very interesting question and one that intrigues me. I believe we are better off with a governmental organization responsible to organize the worlds information. I believe that with government comes a form of integrity that google may not posses. Our government has been able to rise to new challenges throughout its history. In the time of big data, our country is faced with a new challenge to get better control over the system. If google were to organize the worlds information, that would effectively give them more power than our government, and that should never be the case.

    Zayn Thompson said:
    February 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I think that Big Data will have a positive impact on our lives going forward. With the increasing influx of data from our everyday lives, it can contribute and benefit to society. In the TED talk video, the speaker brought up ideas that could benefit society from simple data such as the position of your back. If an anti-theft car technology is made by that, then that would become a huge benefit by using something as simple as gathering information on posture. There are many things just like this that could help our everyday lives from Big Data, but it doesn’t come without cons.
    Privacy is something that is going to be violated, but I think that this would be a sacrifice worth making in order to better our lives. Many people have a problem with this now, and with the introduction of Big Data, we could lose even more of our privacy. The TED talk suggested that gathering information of peoples past, where they live, and overall life situation, they could predict possible actions. However, when experts try and predict what people will do, I think that is where errors will occur as humans are too unpredictable, not matter how much data you collect on them.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      February 1, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Zayn the issue of prediction is an important observation you could actually expand on it

        Zayn Thompson said:
        February 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm

        Prediction is something that most, if not all, companies use today. One of the ways they use it is to predict when, what, and how much of their products consumers will buy. Take a clothing store for example, data can be gathered from many different areas in order to maximize items sold. Over the course of a few years, the same coupons come out at the same time each year. The company collects data on what they sell and how much of it for each coupon, and can then accurately predict which coupons maximize profits. The same goes for commercials, and seeing which ones have the greatest impact on the public. Product placement is also something that is heavily analyzed by companies. You are much more likely, statistically speaking, to buy what is on eye-level with you on a shelf. This is why companies pay a lot more money to have their product placed at a certain level.
        Human prediction, of their actions, is where the reliability of prior data stops. When you use Big Data to predict things, you are generalizing, and in a way averaging, a massive set of data. In the PEW report, they talk about Big Data being possibly harmful because it can serve the majority, sometimes inaccurately, but not the individual. This serves as a problem because as unique people we are all, for the most part, different, and it would be hard to generalize everyone.
        While things like shopping habits are fairly easy to predict, human action, such as crimes, are just too hard to predict accurately because we probably not going to keep doing the same thing over and over again.

    Alita said:
    February 1, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    As I read through these comments and peoples concerns about the loss of our privacy it reminds me of the aftermath of 9/11. Post large scale security breaches we as a people are much more willing to give up our personal freedoms in the name of our safety and security. The Patriot Act came about after 9/11 and I can see Big Data in the name of safety making a big advance if it is advertised well in light of a security threat.

      Kyle Swartz said:
      February 1, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Alita, I completely agree with you. Whenever you hear about large scale data breaches people seem so surprised that information like credit card numbers can be taken so easily. Just think of the Target and Home Depot data breaches. Whats surprising is that people are so shocked at the information that is vulnerable. Credit card information, phone numbers, addresses, and social security numbers are all out on the web and it’s surprisingly easy for hackers to get that information. Once people realize how vulnerable their personal information is, the more willing they will be to give up their freedom in exchange for security.

    Andrew Wanamaker said:
    February 1, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    I read an interesting book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb for my financial economics class last semester. The author who spent years working in the financial industry was a managing director at Credit Suisse and eventually published a book called the “Black Swan”. The Black Swan theory is a metaphor that describes an event as being one of extreme surprise, with detrimental effects, and inappropriately rationalized after the fact of it happening. Nassim basically explained that big events like 9/11 are hard to predict rare events that are beyond are expectations in history, science, finance, and technology. This to a degree contradicts the belief’s that were presented in the Ted Talk. So much of what happens in our world is an outlier and that predicting it is almost impossible. Just because a company develops an algorithm based on unique patterns or trends how are we supposed to predict the exact event that may occur? A fixed model considers the “known Unknowns” but ignores the “unknown unknowns” which further emphasizes that many events are simply without precedent. Data can have its practical uses to help scale out simple observations, but large pools of data cannot predict a black swan which is why an event like 9/11 will probably always be undetectable regardless of the available data we may have available.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      February 1, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      Great insight and stimulating argument!

      Max Johnson said:
      February 2, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Andrew, I think you make a great point about the unpredictability and randomness of events like 9/11 but should that deter governments from using Big Data as a method of prevention? Can value be found in the application of Big Data to solve security problems? Maybe an event like 9/11 cannot be prevented due to the black swan effect but I think other events similar in scale can might stopped or the damages mitigated by Big Data. Big data gives us more information about trends within society and by some chance the use of Big Data allows a government to pinpoint a trend that might lead to a criminal event, then I think the use of Big Data will be justified.

    Ibahim Khan said:
    February 1, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Big Data has the power to change things for the good and for the bad, that is why it has been getting so much attention recently. For instance, now people have cures for dangerous diseases for which earlier they had no idea before what had happened to them. With more accessible data, humans learn more about the disease, its symptoms, its causes and eventually reach the end goal of curing and preventing it from happening and saving thousands and millions of lives. With the help of big data and technology advancement, life has become very convenient. Hundred years ago who would have imagined, that a person could shop by staying at home by only making a few clicks on a screen. The technologies of car lock and finger identification have helped save car thefts which has secured many peoples cars. This all has been possible due to Big Data. With many numerous other benefits and positives brought by big data, it also shifts attention to some worrisome concerns. For instance in my home country, till 2004 mobile phones were not that easily accessible to majority of the population due to the high cost it involved. When the cost decreased, majority of the population enjoyed the fruits by having many mobile phones and several contact numbers. But with that, side by side the extremist groups also took advantage of having mobile phones. Now that they had phones, keeping contact with their group members to plan and hold attacks on government institutions was much easier for them. Earlier they could not communicate on a regular basis but now with such quick feedback that comes with having a personal mobile phone, things changed for the worse. The statement in the Pew article “catastrophic miscalculated information could be spread in nanoseconds”, worries me. In 2008, US made an air strike in Afghanistan, on an information that suggested that there was a terrorist gathering in Deh Bala District, 47 people lost lives with many more injured in the incident. Soon it was confirmed that the gathering was only a traditional wedding ceremony. The same way big data helps us save millions of lives by having a cure for a disease, the same Big Data has helped countries to make bombs which can destroy in seconds.
    Another important point that several of you brought up is the loss of privacy. Like most of us even I do not read the terms and agreement while I’m downloading apps and using Facebook. I am not aware of what I am agreeing to which could lead to unpleasant circumstances. If a machine receives so much personal data about us, that increases a high chance of identity theft. The same convenience of shopping from home could become a nightmare when someone else is pretending to be us by using data provided by us earlier.
    The point I am making is that big data has a vast potential to make things right and wrong. It all depends whether the data is being used under the right people who genuinely have good sensible intentions for what they are doing.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      February 1, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      the ways in which big data can be misused is interesting you can even expand more on how things happen in Pakistan

      Michael Edson said:
      February 1, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Well lets think about national security when it comes to big data. What if terrorist groups start using big data. They can follow patterns about security information in certain towns. They can now locate events by using social media and plan attacks. These groups can get smarter about their attacks and be more discrete. If we are going to hope for the best that bad people don’t use big data we are looking in the wrong direction. How can we limit that? Should certain corporations be allowed to use big data? I want to see laws be in placed to limit the use of big data but people think the internet is a place where there shouldn’t be laws on what a human can or can not do. What is your opinion Ibahim on making sure that national security is not at danger?

    Ibahim Khan said:
    February 1, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Well the biggest loophole in Pakistan is of lack of information about people living in the country. For e.g in the U.S every information about an individual is stored by the government and it can be accessed through social security number. Pakistan does not have such system. It keeps some track of citizens through the national identity card which is not up to date. Similarly it is not easy to track criminals through tapping mobile phone because there is a black market for sim cards, they can have numerous sim cards giving wrong personal information which makes it difficult to get the criminal. This month the government has ordered to block all sims that are not registered through an original national id card number..

    Similarly internet is used as a tool to plan such events which put national security at risk. I think the government needs some major authority on what should be allowed on the internet and what should be removed according to the interest of the country. If there is any videos/pictures or information about a sensitive area of a country, the government must have access to ban that information as soon as possible before that information gets in wrong hands. We cannot just expect that no one will misuse the information. But I cannot think of a more effective measure on internet other than having constant and strict surveillance which could help identify areas which seem as a threat. This needs quick access to trace and reach the IP address locations. Also groups that tend to spread hate speech through social media also need a close watch by the government agencies by using Big Data information.

      Louie Freda said:
      February 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Ibahim, wow great insight on Pakistan! I had no idea. I think it is a fair conclusion to say that the “more effective measure on internet other than having constant and strict surveillance which could help identify areas which seem as a threat.” But is such a monitoring system a realistic possibility? I imagine the costs and the infrastructure required would be enormous! Even in the US w/ the bloated domestic cyber surveillance currently in place we are unable to censure national secrets or hate speech. And I am worried about the potential abuse of power from the government if they gained that much control. I am worried about losing state secrets and hate speech but I am also worried about giving government that much power.

        Ibrahim Khan said:
        February 2, 2015 at 10:41 pm

        Louie, the surveillance technique is one important way to get a sense of if some activity is going to take place, it may not always be right or accurate, but I am sure it does and with more technology it would unearth many more such activities before they can take place. Because with the passage of time, the Taliban have frequently started using the internet to post video messages and etc, if Pakistan gets familiar with availing big data and ways of using it, I think, these guys would easily be tracked down and captured. Indeed the cost would be enormous, but certainly it would be for the better.
        As far as, giving government such power, it is also a point that raises many eyebrows, there are chances that the government would at time misuse the power, intentionally or unintentionally. But if we look at a bigger picture, the government must create a sense of mutual trust between the population and government by delivering and actually showing results of tracing and preventing bad events from happening. Thus then the worry of handing over power to the government would not worry many people. That’s how I feel as of now.

      Ryan Hackett said:
      February 2, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Ibrahim this is a very interesting and informative post. To be honest I’m not a big proponent of the ongoing advancements in Big Data, but it can obviously be very effective. I believe the use of Big Data plays an essential role in America’s national security by detecting criminals and taking every measure to protect citizens. Having access to this information can allow national security to constantly become more advanced and effective. You opened my eyes when you explained how Pakistan does not have access to this big data, and thus cannot implement a successful security system. With all this information accessible it can seem like an invasion of privacy to the average individual, but at the end of the day it can prevent terrorist acts before they even occur.

        Ibrahim Khan said:
        February 2, 2015 at 10:49 pm

        Ryan- Exactly, Big Data definitely plays an essential role in all fields. The history of human beings has always involved change and improvement and big data is a part of both, change and improvement. I absolutely agree with your statement “can seem like an invasion of privacy to the average individual, but at the end of the day it can prevent terrorist acts before they even occur”. The end result is, to prevent and protect the citizens from negative use of big data, if government is successful in doing so, it all seems fine to me..

    Jonathan Root said:
    February 2, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Big Data is clearly everywhere. All of sudden it seems everyone is using it, and analyzing it for specific needs, whether it be political, social, or economic. The Ted Talk video seems to promise that big data can solve any problem, touching base on crime, health, and the environment. At the beginning of the video, the host seems to support big data, emphasizing that it is inevitable to have, and it will continue to grow. how ever, It seems big data is moving in to two separate directions, one that could be controlled, and one that can not be, which could lead towards exploitation and lack of privacy. After watching the video it seems the more information you have, the more power you have. Having big data constantly grow could potentially lead to endless power. With this in mind, is big data all that it seems to be. Is it more of a problem then a solution? In a recent article in the New York Times, entitled “Eight (No Nine!) Problems with big data” the author explains how big data is more of a problem then a solution. He touches on how big data could be getting to big, showing examples of how big data could cause problems for students, the internet, and the people who use it every day. The video puts this into perspective with the use of prediction. Having data predict, and people acting on it seems to have potential for a very bad outcome.

      Jonathan Wagner said:
      February 2, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Jon, could you touch a little bit more on the article in the New York Times. Big data is only going to increase over the years and I would love to hear what the author says about how it could create problems for students. Of course big data brings about a constant problem for students across the world, but can you please be more specific, as I am sure the author goes into further detail about the topic. Will the issues increase tremendously if big data continues to expand? However, on the other hand I feel like students could benefit from big data. An endless supply of data to be analyzed and studied. With machine learning and robotics evolving into our modern society, learning and education can become something we have never experienced. We can have robots teaching us, and learn from our intellectual level to meet our academic needs and preferences. The robots can learn how we learn best, so we can learn more efficiently and quickly. What are your thoughts about this possibility Jon, you seem to have a solid insight on the topic?

        Jonathan Root said:
        February 2, 2015 at 2:25 pm

        Jonathan, great questions. by they way fantastic name. To help you get a better understanding of the article i can post it for you look at. But to help with the questions, and to add my own personal insight i can try to answer these questions. On regards to the student question, the article explains how big data is used to grade students work. The way big data is used is to count sentence length or structure of essays, not the quality of the the essay. Students have found ways around the use of bid data by adding long words, or wordy sentences. Doing so takes away the value of the essay. The video touches base on this idea of big data being used as a machine with no conciseness, rather having a teacher take the time to grade.

        here is the link to the article:

        cyberoutpost responded:
        February 2, 2015 at 9:43 pm

        This is an interesting input to this conversation

    Jonathan Wagner said:
    February 2, 2015 at 12:12 am

    Over the past decade I have seen some very interesting and eye catching new technology advances. From the Samsung Galaxy SIV tracking your eyes while you read to the Lexis LS 460 car parking itself. Big data has been changing our society immensely over the past decade and after watching the TED talk I can’t stop thinking about where we might end up within the next decade. I also agree with Michael, I too am very scared if technology can get smarter. As a society we rely constantly on technology now. Being born into this era, (born digital) I have noticed that my generation is constantly on their computer or phone. I thought I knew a lot about all the technical advances but now more and more younger kids know way much more about technology then I do. This is just an example of how technology is still advancing at a rapid pace. I too like to daze off and think about what if the movie IRobot actually happened to us in the future. Machines will increase the unemployment work force, and have actually already started to. As time goes on machines intelligence will increase so much that they will soon be smarter then us.
    I am currently in a class called Web in Real Life that talks a lot about how much society is dependent on big data. Its scary to think what lies in the future but I agree with Reed that we should accept the development of big data. We have looked in our other class how far we have come over the years and how much easier it is to access certain things. Yes they’re our some limitations that we should highlight but big data is a good thing. One of the most highly debating subjects in big data is surveillance and if it should be restricted. The question that I wanted to pose was what is your opinion on Cooperate and government surveillance. Almost everything now is collected and saved so that every little detailed can be analyzed. To you believe there is too much cooperate and government surveillance? Will it impact our society in a bad way if it continues to expand?

      Max Johnson said:
      February 2, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      Jono, regarding your question about whether Big Data will negatively affect the future if it continues to expand, I think at this point it would be unfair to make any assertion about the future of Big Data. The concept of Big Data is far too new and information is too limited. I’m not sure if Big Data will be bad or good for society but I am almost certain that Big Data will open up new avenues for progress in a variety of fields. Big Data will allow governments, organizations, and corporations the ability to access more information then ever before. From what I understand from reading the Pew Research Center’s analysis of experts’ opinions, the dichotomy in opinions about Big Data is not centered on the societal impacts of more information but rather how people will apply and incorporate this wealth of information. The application of this data both concerns and incites me because having access to this amount of information is a powerful weapon, and who knows if the people in control of this weapon will be able to use it properly.

      Ryan Hackett said:
      February 2, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Jonathan you made some great points in your post. I too agree that technology is rapidly advancing throughout society and our future looks intimidating. With so many technological advancements due to big data, computers are increasingly becoming smarter than humans. This is a scary aspect in regards to our future, but society must adapt and use these new advancements to our advantage. I think big data has had a profound impact on our learning capacity and access to new information, but it does take away the human ability to directly have an impact on society because new technology is taking over at such a rapid pace.

    Nick Ford said:
    February 2, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Big data is “extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.” This data comes from everywhere. To list a few, big data accumulates from posts to social media sites, internet search history and trends, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and even cell phone GPS signals. Big data is important and new, and when used correctly it can be tremedoulously usefully and allow our modern and future society to flourish. As said in the TED talk, “when we have a large body of data, we can fundamentally do things that we couldn’t do when we only had smaller amounts.” We can store data and reuse it for uses that we never deemed possible, going from a stock to a flow. Data has become fluid and dynamic from something that used to be stationary and static. With big data we have more information and we are taking data that have always been informational but have never been put into use through a data format. We have begun to “datafy” things and use the information to our advantage. If used correctly, the use of big data can be very prosperous to our society and will further our society’s technological advancements.

    Although there seems to be endless benefits of big data and new technologies like the cell phone, email, and social media platforms, many of us fail to realize the negative consequences it presents. We are disempowered, as we are constantly being controlled and monitored by government agencies and corporate institutions. In everyday life we are continuously tracked, recorded and manipulated by the people that control all the power. It is easy to feel entitled through social media platforms, but in reality we are confined to a capital accumulation model based on exploitation and commodification. The rapid technological advances of today have made surveillance universally present. Information surveillance used to be very expensive so in the past it wasn’t used as much as it is today. Now agencies and corporations are exploiting these methods of surveillance through the utilization of Internet cookies and formulas to track our Internet searches and trends. This is a cost-effective method for companies, because the information and data gained through surveillance holds value and wealth.

    Nick Ford said:
    February 2, 2015 at 12:59 am

    New media and communication technologies have become the weapons and ammunition that fuels the largest computer service companies in the world, like Google. Through the use of cell phones, computers, and other NMCTs, “Google users and employees produce its surplus value and have made it into the powerful company that it is today” (Fuchs 130). Along with Facebook and Twitter, Google is one of the most popular and most accessed web platforms used on the Internet because of its normalization of ubiquity in our daily lives. Google “is shaping how we search, organize and perceive information in contexts like workplace, private life, culture, politics, the household, shopping and consumption, entertainment, sports, etc.” (Fuchs 127). Because of this, Google has become a political-economic powerhouse of today’s digital media system.

    By searching on Google and/or using Google+, Gmail, GoogleDocs, YouTube, etc., users are indirectly promoting the concept of the audience commodity. Influenced by its political economy tradition, Google “indexes user-generated content that is uploaded to the web and thereby acts as a meta-exploiter of all user-generated content producers” and by using the services users “conduct unpaid productive surplus-value generated labour” (Fuchs 131). The information gathered from the prosumers is then stored for targeted advertising, which is sold to clients that target and promote advertisements tailored to the prosumers’ searches and interests: “Google engages in the economic surveillance of user data and user activities, thereby commodifing and infinitely exploiting users, and selling users and their data as Internet prosumer commodity to advertising clients in order to generate money profit” (Fuchs 131). Google is known as a surveillance machine, as it is an important aspect of their successful operation and capital accumulation.

    Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, explained how it is his dream to achieve transparent personalization. He describes it as the ability to store “all of your information so that we would know enough about you to give you targeted information, the targeted news, the targeted advertising, to make instantaneous, and seamless, happen” (Fuchs 133). In addition, Google Co-Founder, Sergy Brin proposed the idea in which “brains are augmented by Google,” known as Google Artificial Intelligence (Fuchs 133-134). Google is constantly looking for new ways to enhance surveillance techniques, in order to exploit the prosumers as commodities. If these were successful achieved and implemented into Google’s operation, then Google’s already invasive surveillance method of panopticism will become even more extreme. Google is aspiring to commodify knowledge through the direct surveillance of the user’s brain and thoughts, which would completely diminish sensitivity for privacy issues and freedom.

    Work Cited:
    Fuchs, Christian. 2014. Social Media: A Critical Introduction.

      cyberoutpost responded:
      February 2, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      This is a very valuable intervention and analysis, i am happy you guys are taking this very seriously!

    Nick Moffitt said:
    February 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I am in agreement that the Ted talk video raised some great points surrounding Big Data. This is an evolving world and its a direct result of the exponential advancement and innovation of technology. With technology advancing there has been the opportunity to do research and record data, now its big data. The facts that Kenneth Cukier presented in the argument were valid specifically when he mentioned that there is a concern regarding big data eliminating jobs and presenting other issues regarding big data. However, the potential good that big data can provide citizens with is much more than the potential negatives (for example, saving lives and stopping cancer). What really concerns me is the idea of technology taking over our lives in a sense of what we do on a daily basis. How far can big data and technology advance before we reach that point?

    Ryan Hackett said:
    February 2, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Big data is being used all across the world and is rising at a rapid rate. It has many pros and cons, but all in all it is here to stay. It has evolved over the years and has become an important tool in simplifying and answering many questions we as individuals face on a daily basis. The presence of big data brings upon more accessible information that has never existent to us before. With big data we are able to individualize and simplify everyday life, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? I think it’s successful in that we are able to digest information at a faster rate and incorporate that information into new innovative technologies. But I don’t think that big data is the final judge in solving every issue or need that we may have. In the video, Kenneth Cukier, makes a good point stating that with advancements in big data, future employment will be in a dark state. With rapid technological advancements, white collared jobs will be at stake, displacing valuable members of society. Why would a company pay an individual a significant salary, when they could get more production for a cheaper price by using new technologies. Is there a middle ground that could be met between hard working people and the presence of computers, or will new technologies rapidly rise and make the use of the actual person far less important?

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