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Big Data

A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think

By Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
19-minute read
Audio available
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier

Big Data provides an insightful look at why a change to “big data” is a major shift in how we collect, use and think about the data around us. It provides great explanations and examples of how individuals and companies already ahead of the curve are using the tools of big data to create value and profit. Casting an eye forward, the book also outlines the future implications for a big-data society in terms of the risks, opportunities and legal implications.

  • Anyone who is interested in learning more about what “big data” is and what it means for society
  • Anyone who is looking to make a career using big data
  • Anyone from a company who is looking for opportunities to use the data the company collects

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger was on the faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School for over ten years before taking up the position of professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. He is also the author of Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.

Kenneth Cukier is the data editor of the Economist, and writes widely about what is happening in the world of big data. His articles, covering technology, business and economics, have appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs and the Financial Times.

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Big Data

A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think

By Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
Synopsis

Big Data provides an insightful look at why a change to “big data” is a major shift in how we collect, use and think about the data around us. It provides great explanations and examples of how individuals and companies already ahead of the curve are using the tools of big data to create value and profit. Casting an eye forward, the book also outlines the future implications for a big-data society in terms of the risks, opportunities and legal implications.

Key idea 1 of 12

Data is increasingly being collected and put to use in all aspects of our lives, from the size of our bums to the way we walk.

With the rise of Internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter, and the popularity of smart devices, we have become familiar with things such as our relationship statuses, comments, preferences and location being stored as data that can then be analyzed. This trend is part of the process of datafication – capturing information about the world in the form of data.

Because we can discover valuable insights from such data, we are likely to see the trend continue, with innovations in capturing data from sources we had not previously thought of as information.

An example of this trend can be seen at Japan’s Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology, where pressure sensors are used to measure the distribution of weight our backsides put on a car seat. The research has revealed that individuals can be so accurately identified by this information that weight distribution can be used as a security device, with the car starting only for drivers it “recognizes.”

Other companies too have realized the potential in datafication. Apple applied for a patent in 2009 to passively measure the blood oxygenation, heart rate and body temperature of users through the company’s earbuds. In a similar move, IBM was awarded a patent in 2012 for touch-sensitive floor surfaces, which have the potential to identify where and how different people are moving across it.

As these examples show, researchers are already harnessing sources of information we hadn’t previously considered as data. They aim to discover valuable insights into the ways we interact and behave, with an eye on creating innovative new products.

Data is increasingly being collected and put to use in all aspects of our lives, from the size of our bums to the way we walk.

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