Forget Privacy

No one online has any privacy. Corporations and governments collect information on every keystroke you make, and even capture your location using your mobile phone when it is turned off. As became clear in 2016, governments and corporations cannot protect the data they collect. Foreign governments and individuals can hack nearly any computer system in the world, stealing personal and institutional information. Nearly anything you post online—credit card information, medical prescriptions, political rants, or sexting pictures—may end being posted on Facebook or used against you by mean, stupid, or criminal people, or by job interviewers.

No Privacy SignSome commentators consider Big Data to be a “radically new kind of knowledge infrastructure” that is developing rapidly and which will have a huge effect on almost every facet of industry and society. (The Aspen Institute, The Promises and Perils of Big Data, 2010.) We are moving into a world where computers will know more about what you buy, where you go, who you call, what medicines you take, and what you watch than your mother does. Advertisements are crafted specifically to target your known habits and personality.

The purpose of this educational activity you are reading right now is to describe Big Data and specifically how it can be used to improve people’s health and to present you with Big Data choices for career options. But, remember, some Big Data is used to sell you things or to spy on you. Be warned and act accordingly and cautiously when you are online.