Disagreement on Value of Big Data
August 1, 2012
Is the Big Data phenomenon good or bad for society? The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center recently performed a study that gathered some pretty strong opinions on both sides of the issue, we learn in MediaPost’s “Pew: Value of ‘Big Data’ Debated.”
The survey asked over a thousand technology pros about Big Data, and more than half of them agreed that, by 2020, it will be a “huge positive for society in nearly all respects.” Researchers noted that:
“Big Data proponents predict continuing development of real-time data analysis and enhanced pattern recognition that could bring revolutionary change to personal life, business, and government.”
Probably so. However, a sizable minority (thirty-nine percent) disagree with the rosy outlook, asserting that, by 2020, Big Data will prove to be “a big negative.” I suspect that a field of (informed) non-technical respondents might have turned up an even larger proportion of naysayers. Writer Mark Walsh tells us these survey takers:
“. . . noted that the people controlling the collection and management of large data sets are typically governments or corporations with their own agendas. Dissenters also pointed to a shortage of human curators with the tools to sort through the glut of data, increasing the possibility that data can be manipulated or misread.”
Also true. Hmm.
The write up is an interesting read, and the opinions that accompany the survey results even more so (if you have the time to go through them). My take—like any powerful invention, Big Data collection and analysis can be employed for weal or woe, depending on who’s using it. Where would our society be if we rejected every technology that could be used nefariously? I’m afraid that individual, corporate, and governmental integrity are still the keys. Yes, even now.
Cynthia Murrell, August 1, 2012