Every end of the year, tech experts and news outlets talk about technology’s future and make bold predictions for what’s to come. Many of these are outlandish and unrealistic, at least in the next few years, but other conjectures often prove alarmingly accurate. One subject that never fails to feature in discussions about our technological future is that of Big Data.
Big Data is a confusing and much-misunderstood concept. It refers to the processing of vast amounts of information, far too large for traditional systems and techniques to handle. It comes from a huge variety of sources, including our Internet habits, social media, business transactions, smart devices, and many more. Organizations analyze the data in order to glean insights that may prove beneficial in many ways. It helps companies and governments make better business decisions, manufacture more useful products, market themselves more effectively, and better meet consumers’ needs. It also provides insights into ways we might change the world for the better, equipping us to deal with big issues like climate change and global conflicts. However, there are also worries that Big Data could be used to nefarious ends when it comes to matters of privacy, security, and discrimination.
Big Data is still a fairly new concept, so the future is unclear. Nevertheless, there are some common predictions about what is in store for our information.
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An exponential growth in data
The amount of data in existence is growing exponentially, and it is predicted that by the year 2025, there will be 175 zettabytes of worldwide data (or 175 trillion gigabytes). The infrastructure required to manage and process this colossal volume of information would be monumental, and to accommodate it, it looks like the new home for Big Data will be in the cloud. As a result of this growth, we will see an increasing demand for data-related jobs such as Data Scientists and Chief Data Officers (CDOs). There is a bright future ahead for those workers who know how to differentiate their data mining from their database conversion service.
As consumers, we share more data than ever before. We exchange our private information to download music and games on our phones. We wear fitness trackers that monitor our heart rates and activity at all times. And we have smart devices like Alexa in our living rooms who overhear our every conversation. Most people don’t give these data transactions a second thought, but what happens when our data is used against us?
Privacy has always been an issue, but exponentially increasing volumes of data will make us even more prone to cyberattacks, identity theft, and unethical practices. Discrimination, too, will become a thorny issue as data plays an increasingly critical part in our society. When governments and other third-parties know all our personal, financial, and medical information, this could impact our lives in ways never seen before. Insurance agents could reject applicants based on medical data from their fitness trackers, and employers could have swathes of additional information on their applicants on which to judge them.
Understanding Big Data
So yes, it’s clear that the opportunities for Big Data are enormous, but so too are the risks. A certain regulation around the usage of information and the privacy aspects that come with it, is very desirable. But even then, the future is to the ones that understand the power of big data.
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