Data is the new oil of the 21st century. It has surpassed oil in value. Probably the most famous line that people know about data. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the online electronic databases are compelling your data. While surfing the internet, our digital footprints are recorded and preserved somewhere online, which we are not aware of. For each individual going online, there is enough digital data to gain complete insights on their personality.
All these suspicions have created a fearful image of ‘DATA’ in our minds. Besides, are these worthy enough to refuse the advantages of data-driven technologies? Ways in which these technologies are benefitting society are countless.
Tech giant Google is creating beneficial solutions from data-driven technologies. Google’s DeepMind is working on health projects for more than two years. Recently DeepMind announced that it’s Artificial Intelligence could detect more than 50 eye diseases as accurately as a doctor. Other than the health sector, data-driven technologies are helping in fighting financial crimes, food shortage, poverty, security, and many more.
While the benefits of using data are countless, information is being used for a long time to create useful insights. Here is a brief history of data collection in the past and what purposes it served in the past.
Data Collection isn’t New; Our Ancestors Used to Collect Data
Before reading and writing were invented, people used to live in hordes of 20-200. It was normal to collect personal data on each other to understand emotional, mental, and physical requirements. Little had they cared about collecting data. On the contrary, none of them would have bothered about data collection.
Alongside this, 4000 years ago, a system in the form of a population census was formed to collect personal data. This census was aimed to know how much people earn in different regions and how much tax can be collected from them. This model of the population census is being used by many countries to collect citizen’s data for many objectives such as; resource allocation and tax collection.
Even though there were no storage devices available but considering human nature, the intimate details would have been a topic of gossip and observations within the groups. It was a normal practice to know about the likes, dislikes, and habits of their fellows. All it is now tagged with the catchy title ‘Personal Digital Data’ and it is terrifying humans.
Privacy Issues Could Be Solved
Even though humans are using data to create insights for ages, but with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), the idea is abused. In recent years, concerns about our digital data are increased. The growth of big data industry and huge datasets that companies collect on us raises several privacy issues.
What kind of information is being collected? Or how will it be used? What impact will it have on our personal digital life? What if there is a data breach? And so on. These are some questions that each of us must have thought at least once.
While these concerns are legitimate, the critics often overstate the issues, which undermines the amazing benefits of data science. Policymakers need to identify (identity verification) the genuine issues concerning data privacy and make policies or at least get the industry on board to follow certain ethical practices.
Another solution to cut privacy concerns is to educate consumers. Digital literacy programs for consumers and organizations will help to better address the data protection issue.
Power of Big Data
Many technologies that we take for granted are the result of some interesting insights created from the pre-existing data sets. That’s the power of big data. Many of the online content and digital services that we use are free today because of the personalized ads generated through the data collection and data sets. That’s the power of big data.
Beneficial Data-driven technologies are all around us. Spam and fraud detection, language translation, digital mapping technologies, better health care facilities, data-driven marketing, and tackling city pollution, are some examples of data-driven innovations.
The policymakers need to ensure that fear of data-driven technology did not overtake the gains that humanity could achieve from technology. Instead of opposing the technology the important question we need to ask though is; where does the problem exist and how can it be rectified? Finding answers for these will solve the problem and society can benefit at great from big data.