The Ethics of Big Data and the Latent Threat to Democracy
March 14, 2017 - 10:37am
One of the most cliched, overused, yet poignant quotes comes from a dying Uncle Ben, speaking to Peter Parker on the eve of becoming Spider-Man:
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Big Data and the IoT represent some of the most powerful technological advances that mankind has ever seen in its relatively short history. Social and cultural norms dictate that the average citizen of any developed country owns and regularly uses a smartphone, a social media profile, and a myriad of other devices that are connected to the cloud. The data these users generate is genuinely useful and can contribute to grandiose marketing efforts, widespread government initiatives, and important humanitarian efforts as well. However, there’s a more sinister side to big data and analytics usage that we can’t ignore, and that responsibility demands we confront with an ethical framework.
A New, Confused Field of Research
The problem with approaching the ethics of Big Data is that nobody can really agree yet on a framework. This is due to multiple factors, but, in her piece “Scientists Are Just As Confused About the Ethics of Big-Data Research As You,” published via Wired in mid 2016, tech author Sarah Zhang argues that “the risks—and rewards—of analyzing big, ...Read More on Datafloq
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