Big Data's Industrial Problems of Pollution, Waste and Leakage …

Big Data's Industrial Problems of Pollution, Waste and Leakage …

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[This post was originally written by Jeanne Roue-Taylor]

For
centuries now, we’ve created goods through mass production, using
machines, assembly lines and ever-larger ways to melt, mix, cut, stamp,
rivet and paste. We’ve gotten used to using many materials to create
something of higher value, with the waste being given off as liquid,
gases and material headed for a landfill, or worse, put in containers to
end up in a mountain in Nevada.

Why would we expect ‘clean’ technology — information — to be any different?

Strangely enough, the same thing is happening with data, and the more
data we have, really Big Data, the more the unintended side effects are
felt from data leakage, outright pollution, and data waste. They’re
just electrons, you think? They’re easily secured or destroyed, you say?
It isn’t quite that simple.

Google and others love our data waste

Search data is a great example of our data waste. We search on any
term we desire, blissfully ignorant of the implications of giving
detailed insight into our private matters that is being stored as our
“search flotsam.” This data is amazingly good at defining our interests,
thus our propensities, far more than we realize.

The NSA sniffs our data pollution

When
we walk around with our smartphones in our pockets, the data leakage of
every cell phone tower check-in is highly interesting to governments
(and others) who’d like to understand exactly where we go and when, and
who else is at that same spot. We’re leaking data don’t realize that
gives up more privacy than we’d ever imagine.

Businesses leak data

And just like a poorly-designed industrial process, businesses leak
data through their employees habits, their poor data hygiene and
outright fraud and corporate espionage conducted against unsecured
systems. Some companies are data hemorrhaging without realizing it until
it makes the news. Many more are on the verge of losing data they’ll
never realize is gone.

So what now?

In the first century of the industrial revolution, we gave
industrialists a free hand with polluting our world because we craved
the benefits and didn’t feel the effects right away. Acid rain, dead
rivers and lakes and sick humans changed our minds and we got tougher
about pollution. There will come a point in the future, who’s to say how
far off, where we take the same approach with data that we took to
pollution…we’ll realize that the data byproducts of our modern life have
an impact on our safety, our privacy and possibly our quality of life.

At that point, we’ll then work to contain the damage and we’ll find
out what’s repairable and not. We’ll be surprised about what can’t be
put back in the bottle and we’ll make choices that won’t be driven
simply by convenience and up-front cost.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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