Big Data Technologies: ethical issues

Big DataBy now, modern society seems to have become accustomed to the fact that we live in the reality of an ongoing information revolution. Leading countries of this revolution developed the basic rules of the game: concerning the protection, storage, use of digital information.

Nevertheless, there are still many questions and unresolved problems – “luggage”, with which just a few years ago the society came to the threshold of a new revolution – the Big Data revolution. Thanks to technological developments in the field of storing digital information and the penetration of technology into the everyday life of an increasing number of people, it became possible to analyze the ever increasing flow of extremely large amounts of data, or Big Data.

We, as users, being not fully aware of the scale, still not sufficiently attentive to user agreements and permissions for the processing of personal data, which we give to web applications, search engines. The existing data protection standards, which are primarily focused on personalized information (passport data, residence address, insurance number and the like) are already insufficient to protect all the information that we share voluntarily.

Big Data contains much more detailed information – location data, browser history, call history and more. Big Data sets a lot of ethical problems for society. As an example, we give two main ones. The first is the question of institutionalization. At the moment in Russia, the Data science is regulated only by legislation that is not adapted to the new technology, internal corporate codes of companies engaged in the collection and analysis of primary data, and the personal moral principles of so-called data scientists – people involved in the analysis of Big Data.

If the situation does not change, society risks negligently sacrifice such values as confidentiality, free choice, identity for the sake of innovative technology. The second is the problem of identity. The Data science treats a person as a set of behavioral patterns, digital algorithms, any user becomes a “person countable”. If for some reason in the calculations there will be an error or a software failure, for a number of those who use the Big Data, the user become a completely different person.

The other side of the identity problem is the content formed by the Big Data algorithms and given out to the user as something that could potentially interest him. In the digital community, it is increasingly difficult to draw a line – where a person self-identifies, and where he identifies under the influence of content offered by algorithms written by other people or a program. Based on the discussed issues, the following conclusion can be drawn: on the threshold of the Big Data revolution, we need to decide how to integrate new technology into society and how to adapt society to the new technology. We need a thorough and comprehensive study. It is also necessary to raise the awareness and literacy of the society regarding the use of digital data.

Author: Noskova-Dukelskaya Anna

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