How might we live in symbiosis with a new technology; big data?
We are living in the era of information, surrounded by invisible snippets of data. Every time we make calls, google something, finds a way to go, and post selfies on social media, pieces of data, such as who you call, what you look up, where you go, and who you are, are created and dispersed in the air. They, however, doesn’t disappear. Although the little data seem to have nothing harmful or dangerous at all, once they are in an enormous chunk — big data, it would be able to violate and to destruct our real lives seriously. How would it be so and why is it? Negative implications of big data happen while big data goes through the three steps — data collecting, data analysis, and data dissemination.
First, data collecting would be able to invade each individuals’ privacy by sweeping data on a large scale. With the advance of other technologies associated with big data, a corporation or even a governmental agency can gather as much as possible. Compared to conventional statistics, the scope of the collection is too massive to be regulated and clear enough. Everyone could be a subject of the collection without awareness. This is why American started to worry more about civil liberties than terrorism after the fact that the National Security Agency had spied on the metadata of their calls was revealed(David Cole, ‘We kill people based on metadata.’)
Algorithm is the core of data analysis of big data. Crude data are transformed into a valuable information by passing through this magic box. Yet, the analyzed information could be misleading sometimes. People tend to trust the result of the algorithm because they think it is unbiased and accurate. In fact, the algorithm could be a flawed. Any algorithm cannot be sophisticated enough to calculate the real world’s complexity. Its creator should simplify and prioritize viable based on human prejudice, misunderstanding, and bias. Therefore the result could be skewed and make destructive impact on one’s life(Cathy O’Neil, ‘Weapons of math destruction.’)
Even if the outcome of the previous processes is valid, our lives could also be ruined when it is inappropriately applied in the course of data dissemination. Data discrimination is one of the adverse consequence if the delivered outcome stigmatizes a particular demographic group as the worthless(Alice Marwick, ‘How your data are bing deeply minded.’)
So should we drive this evil technology out? No, it is almost impossible since our lives have been already tightly intertwined with it. Then, how might we live in symbiosis with big data?
Transparency in data collecting process should be ensured. Transparency means disclosing the collecting scope and process to the subjects here. It would allow the balance between the privacy and the goal of big data. Transparency of analytical variables is also necessary. By doing so, the algorithm can be corrected by feedback and can be improved. Furthermore, we should take ethic into account while distributing data. By doing so, ethic would be able to instill humanity into the ruthless big data.