How Big Data Became “Big Bad Data”

Three years ago, in a May 2015 Wall Street Journal article entitled Tracing Some of Big Data’s Big Paradoxes, I quoted Washington University in St. Louis Law Professor Neil M. Richards in summing up the opportunities and challenges represented by Big Data, “Big Data will create winners and losers, and it is likely to benefit the institutions who wield its tools over the individuals being mined, analyzed, and sorted.”

ow, nearly three years later, the dark side of Big Data is dominating the headlines, and we can’t say that we weren’t warned. The Monday April 23 edition of The Wall Street Journal carries a book review by Gregg Easterbrook entitled Big Data, Big Problems. The review begins: “‘Big Data” is the Big Bad of our moment. Companies and governments amass enormous troves of information about our online and offline activities, so they can understand them better than we do. Recently we learned that creepy firms like Cambridge Analytica mine Big Data from websites such as Facebook.

Author: Randy Bean

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