I am once again a Pew Expert, featured in a big data survey:
Imagining the Internet, Elon University, The 2012 Survey: What is the potential future influence of Big Data by 2020?
A number of respondents articulated a view that could be summarized as: Humans seem to think they know more than they actually know. Still, despite all of our flaws, this new way of looking at the big picture could help.
One version of this kind of summary thought was written by Stowe Boyd […]
Overall, the growth of the ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Big Data’ will feed the development of new capabilities in sensing, understanding, and manipulating the world. However, the underlying analytic machinery (like Bruce Sterling’s Engines of Meaning) will still require human cognition and curation to connect dots and see the big picture.
And there will be dark episodes, too, since the brightest light casts the darkest shadow. There are opportunities for terrible applications, like the growth of the surveillance society, where the authorities watch everything and analyze our actions, behavior, and movements looking for patterns of illegality, something like a real-time Minority Report.
On the other side, access to more large data can also be a blessing, so social advocacy groups may be able to amass information at a low- or zero-cost that would be unaffordable today. For example, consider the bottom-up creation of an alternative food system, outside the control of multinational agribusiness, and connecting local and regional food producers and consumers. Such a system, what I and others call Food Tech, might come together based on open data about people’s consumption, farmers’ production plans, and regional, cooperative logistics tools. So it will be a mixed bag, like most human technological advances.
Others had smart things to say, like Jerry Michalski, Jeff Jarvis, David Weinberger, danah boyd, and Janna Anderson. Go read the whole thing.