“I Believe in GOD, for everything else I need DATA”. This phrase seems to be the mantra today across the globe. Information is made available at the most granular level. Intent to use the available information to serve mankind in the right manner is more philosophical (least to say) than technological.
Recently, there was an interesting radio program at BBC World Service: Business Matter titled “Too Much Information” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01r3l8m.
Focus of the discussion was:

  • Deluge of data
  • How are we managing it?
  • What are we doing with it?

Biggest question highlighted on the program was to understand if there is a scope to “MIS-USE” the data that is now available easily. Example – There are various tools now available which could scan through the social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and get the feeds to analyse behavioural aspects such as emotion, sentiment, choice, etc. There were many views on whether the deluge of data will lead to positive or negative effects to society in general.

One of the most leading negative effects could be “Loss of privacy” but the biggest threat could be “If end users of this data manipulate the information to steer the results towards an outcome unacceptable to the society”.

One of the most leading positive effects could be to develop pattern recognition algorithms using STATED data. This will not only benefit companies but will be an upward leap towards robust clinical research.

Citizens of this society may be split between the positive and negative impacts of the deluge of data and the increase in ability to analyse these data points much more effectively. “Big Data” by itself is not the answer. Technology has advanced in storing data, handling data, but gleaming learning from that deluge is the key. For instance, building a dam across a huge river is progressive but identifying ways to generate electricity, providing channel systems to use it for irrigation, etc. is more respectful. Misuse is possible here too but one can take stand whether benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Our belief: We think “Big Data” is still at a very nascent stage; similar to computers in late 1980’s, internet in 1990’s. ; Citizens were split back then on the positives and negatives of these. However, history has shown that the positive effects of these innovations have vastly improved the quality of lives we lead today. We strongly believe that stringent regulations on use of Big Data” will outweigh the benefits over the drawbacks.

Authors: Vijay Ramaswamy and Santosh Nair; Founders, Analytic Edge Pvt. Ltd.