Privacy / Security

Will Big Data transform your life — or make it a misery?

LONDON: The age of Big Data is upon us. Fuelled by an incendiary mix of overblown claims and dire warnings, the public debate over the handling and exploitation of digital information on an astronomically large scale has been framed in stark terms: on one side are transformative forces that could immeasurably improve the human condition; on the other, powers so subversive and toxic that a catastrophic erosion of fundamental liberties looks inevitable.

The tension between these opposites has marooned the discussion of Big Data. It is stuck somewhere between Bletchley Park — the former Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) location where the godfather of the computational universe, Alan Turing, primed today’s Big Data explosion during the Second World War — and the satirical tomfoolery of South Park, which recently portrayed the living core of all data as an incarcerated Father Christmas cruelly wired up to a machine by the US’s National Security Agency (NSA).

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