In my last article I wrote, among other things, about the impact of the Internet of Things. But there is another megatrend that is nowadays very relevant to you as it is to the world. I’m talking about Big Data. Often confused with the Internet of Things.
Big Data, it doesn’t sound that hard. Well, it isn’t. It’s about an unimaginable amount of data that we have stored since the birth of the internet. If we look at the the trend life cycle it’s a megatrend that just past the turning point and is in an early stage of growing (Ponten, 2016). In 2014, Cukier said: “More data doesn’t just let us see more. More of the same thing we’re looking at. More data allows us to see new, it allows us to see better, it allows us to see different.” Keep this in mind.
But why is this thing called Big Data so relevant to us? How is it going to effect us on a social scale? To answer this question, we have to dive deeper into the subject Big Data.
In a recent study (Strong, 2016) it has become quite clear that in today’s life we use a humongous amount of data for almost every field of industry in the world. We now have stored more data than ever before because of the technological innovations. Where we used to think of data as a static thing, we can now see it as something that is fluent (Cukier, 2014).
We also have to understand something about computers. An often misconceived idea about computers is that they are smart. Computers can’t think for their selves. They can fulfil tasks for us, but we (humans) have to exactly tell them what to do. In the past, we’ve always tried to tell computers what to do and they always failed at doing it, because a computer can’t cope with any unpredictable changes (Cukier, 2014). For example, if I tried to learn a robot how to ride a bike, I could let him ride for miles and miles on a treadmill. However, if I would let him go out riding in public, I could probably pick him up as a trashed can at the nearest traffic light. Because I didn’t teach him to stop at a red traffic light, he didn’t stop.
But if I for instance tell the robot to learn biking by giving him all accessible information there is about biking and his whereabouts, the computer roughly said can teach himself how to ride a bike in public area’s. And this is where it all comes together. Because we nowadays register everything we do in life the pile of data is almost infinite. Now think about the possibilities if a computer takes on matters that would take us lifetimes to calculate, a computer could do it in a second without making any miscalculations. So, if you for example were a cancer patient and you were getting a biopsy. The computer could tell for certain if your cells are cancerous or not, where humans may would have been mistaking (Raghupathi & Raghupathi).
Of course there are so much more beautiful ideas for putting big data in use. But there are also some ethical matters that need your attention. For example, there is an application called “predictive policing”. To cut a long story short it’s about the authorities punishing you for a crime you didn’t commit (yet) on the merits of your data use. Please tell me if you think we are taking this thing way too far or if you feel perfectly comfortable with this going on.
Cukier, K. (2014, June). Big data is better data [Video file]. Retrieved 2016-09-13 from https://www.ted.com/talks/kenneth_cukier_big_data_is_better_data?language=nl
Ponten, H. (2016). Lecture 2: Trends and Brands [PDF document]. Retrieved 2016-09-13, from
Raghupathi, V., & Raghupathi, W. (2014, February 7). Big data analytics in healthcare: promise and potential. Retrieved 2016-09-13, from
Strong, C. (2016). The big opportunity in Big Data. Retrieved 2016-09-13, from