Data-Driven Society Ahead!

By Yicheng Pu

August 10, 2017

Category: Business Perspectives

Perhaps without even realizing it, people everywhere are becoming aware of the knowledge hiding behind data and have started to use that data to help make decisions. We are a data-driven society. Data provides us with a much clearer view than intuition or random guesses. It reduces our risk when trying something new. Data helps us make informed decisions. It is easy to see the benefits of a data-driven society, but you are correct to be concerned about the potential dangers.

 Our devices are 100% secure. How did you do that? I turned tham all off.
Al's Market on Main St. 4 stars. They have a water bowl outside. Most customers entering will pause to pat your head. Dog biscuits available at checkout counter.

An apparent benefit of a data driven society would be the ability to evaluate businesses and others when making decisions. Whether you took an Uber, searched for a hotel on Google Maps or did some shopping on Amazon, chances are your decisions were influenced by reviews and ratings. Because so many people use this information in so many decisions, the potential risk to a business or an individual from misevaluation is huge. How does a data driven society protect itself from misevaluation? It is important to ensure the evaluation is coming from a proper source. The review should also consider all relevant factors, and collect as many samples as possible. The population must be educated about the evaluation process and use it properly. For example, if a product is well rated but has only two ratings in total, then there is still a risk in drawing information from the rating.

I can prove or disprove it. What do you want me to do?

Most of the data collected today is gathered automatically; the data analysis is done by a human. That human is the data analyst. Data analysts with different subjective perspectives will apply different algorithms, make different inferences or have different opinions. These differences can have huge impacts on the way the data is presented and interpreted. So then how can you trust the data to make a decision? The most practical way to solve this problem is to have multiple analysts working on the same project, the decision maker must be aware of any potential bias and be able to regularize the result.

Information that is gathered and stored is information that can end up in the wrong hands. Something as benign as your phone number or email address on a list can result in annoying telemarketing calls or an email account full of spam. Now consider that in a data-driven society, a hacker can know every detail of your life. Where did you go yesterday? What kind of food did you have for lunch? Where do you work? Live? Who are your relatives? Data security has become a much more critical problem now that everything is digitalized. Individuals and organizations must realize the importance of data security, and spend the time and effort to protect it.

Hello? I would like to report an outrageous privacy breach. I found this book on my doorstep where my name, full address and phone number are all displayed in clear text!!

Want to get in touch? contact us anytime.