Target knows when you get pregnant. Facebook knows when you break up with someone. Google knows when you have been in a car accident.
These are all (terrifying) consequences of our increasing lack of privacy. They are also results of the “big data” revolution that’s transforming our society. Whether you are a buyer, a seller or a hopeless romantic “researching” your old high school crush, chances are, some program is keeping track of all your clicks. This is what big data can do. By aggregating data from billions of people, analysts can predict what you are likely to do next.
Given the degree to which Amazon and Facebook have crushed their competition, companies that do not take advantage of big data are doomed to obsolescence.
Why then, with all the noise we hear about the rise of big data in consumerism, do we hear so little about big data in social justice? Is it not possible for big data to make the world a better place while making it creepier and less private?