A revelatory exploration of the hottest trend in technology and the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large.
Which paint color is most likely to tell you that a used car is in good shape? How can officials identify the most dangerous New York City manholes before they explode? And how did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu outbreak?
The key to answering these questions, and many more, is big data. “Big data” refers to our burgeoning ability to crunch vast collections of information, analyze it instantly, and draw sometimes profoundly surprising conclusions from it. This emerging science can translate myriad phenomena—from the price of airline tickets to the text of millions of books—into searchable form, and uses our increasing computing power to unearth epiphanies that we never could have seen before. A revolution on par with the Internet or perhaps even the printing press, big data will change the way we think about business, health, politics, education, and innovation in the years to come. It also poses fresh threats, from the inevitable end of privacy as we know it to the prospect of being penalized for things we haven’t even done yet, based on big data’s ability to predict our future behavior.
In this brilliantly clear, often surprising work, two leading experts explain what big data is, how it will change our lives, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its hazards. Big Data is the first big book about the next big thing.
Oxford professor Mayer-Sch nberger (Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Internet Age) and Economist data editor Cukier survey the changes to modern life created by our increased capacity to gather and process data. Arguing that the need for statistical sampling is now behind us due to modern computing capacity, the authors discuss how big data's capabilities supersede past methods in applications like tracking the spread of the flu or credit card fraud. Even the human body can be "datafied," with modern applications that use a person's walking gait as a password or monitor body tremors to track the progression of neurological disorders. The rise of big data has helped to create several types of companies: those that own data, those that analyze data, and those that know how to use data to find the answers to new problems. The authors review the risks of this new trend, from privacy concerns to over-reliance on numbers to changes in an individual's responsibility to society. They write with enthusiasm, call for new career paths for algorithmists, and close with a prediction that big data will change the world, from helping solve climate change to improving global health care accessibility.
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This is a very useful overview with great examples.