Nowadays, people surf the web for pictures of cats much more often than for sketches of atomic bombs. The Internet became a vast database, and it was created to make fast access to this data open to everyone (Cukier, 2014). However, the web is becoming more and more commercialized: people are not ready to share information for free, and it quickly became a commodity. Besides, the abundance of ads can not only ruin the mood of users when ads are aggressive and intrusive but also distract from the original search goal.
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Yes, today, anyone can find out the distance between the stars, see photographs of any part of the world by finding a place on the map, or quickly learn how to care for rare breed puppies. But this does not mean that people continue to be interested. Content unification becomes a problem; it is not always possible for a user to get rid of the “support” of Google search, which monitors preferences, putting every user in a personal bubble.
Big Data is taking up more and more space in human relationships, careers, and everyday life. Many people came to terms with the fact that large companies buy personal data from social networks like Facebook, while GPSs monitor movements and Google watches online preferences. This situation creates many prerequisites for misuse of data, as happened in China, where people’s activities are followed through external CCTV cameras, and information is transmitted to surveillance agencies. Many totalitarian regimes continue to exist because of the power of machines.
I want to agree with Kenneth Cukier that the more data, the smarter the machines, the more opportunities they provide to those who own and operate them. However, despite the gloomy predictions in Orwell and Bradbury’s style, it must be admitted that technological progress, although not freeing humanity, did not plunge it into slavery (Cukier, 2014). Morality and ethics of human relations, the evolution of state structures, develop in parallel with technical progress and are not as closely related to it as it might seem at first glance.
Cukier, K. (2014). Big data is better data [Video file]. Web.