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How Big Data is Beginning to Control our Lives- Final Paper

James Darling

STS Final Paper

Final Draft

Professor Fleming

May 18th, 2018

                                                               How Big Data is Beginning to Control our Lives

               What if there was a way to track a person’s internet searches, online purchases, facebook profiles, relationships etc. all by the collection of data? Well, that is completely possible, with the credit going towards big data. Big data is essentially the gathering of large sums of data points which then helps in analyzing just about everything a person searches or clicks on the internet. The way our society has used and is advancing in using big data has skyrocketed. Some common uses are in enhancing products, analyzing human tendencies and behavior, and looking for patterns and correlations in people’s data. While big data provides so much good for many companies, it also tests our privacy of something so simple as searching for something on Google. The first person to expose those people, more specifically the government and law enforcement, was Edward Snowden in 2013. Snowden, working for the NSA, realized the wrong in what they were doing which led him to releasing a high number of classified documents about the dark side of big data (Biography.com). That leads to the discussion of the 4th amendment and how, mainly, our countries law enforcement are finding loopholes in this constitutional amendment to further break into our citizens’ private matters, and big data does not exactly help that (Joh). While law enforcement may use data to further find out more on criminals, almost every big player in the online industry, whether it be social media or specific product purchasing, is using our private searches to find out more about us. A common person may think that if they are searching things online in the comfort of their own home that no one is watching, but it quite the contrary. While these companies most likely are not sitting on the other side of the screen tracking your every search, your data is still there and they can find it. It may be hard to believe that friendly names such as Google or Facebook are tracking us, much less using our data for their benefit, but they are, that is how they survive. In fact, most companies will tell you quite clearly if you scroll through there privacy policy, which many, including myself, tend not to do. In a portion of Facebook’s privacy policy they describe what they obtain from their users, “We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created.” (Facebook: Data Policy). The amount of data these companies are taking in is enormous and only increasing, and just because they make it seem friendly or inviting in their privacy policy, we do not know what goes on inside of these companies. The average american spends about 168 hours a week looking at their technological devices (Howard), because of this there is a plethora of data out in the world that is being used by companies, industries, and the government to further enhance our society, although their constant surveillance could be a risk of breaching our rights to privacy. Continue reading

Technology and Society

         I have always wondered about the generation that has come before us and what they did before this age of technology. Our generation is so reliant on it that we look at screens and devices all day, that is just how the world is now. Although, as a generation, we have lacked in taking in some of the skills from our previous one. We look at dating, business, and normal communication and it is all now through apps and texting etc. When all those things were not around everyone had to do something that we now all fear, to talk. That is where society comes into play and why it is paired with technology in our course. Instead of society controlling the technology we have almost found a way for the technology to control us. Although when we speak on things affecting a ‘society’, what exactly do we mean by that? What or who defines society?

         I’d like to break up the definition of the word society. Merriam-Webster gives it to us as, “an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another” (Merriam Webster). The definition begins by telling us that a society, something we all claim to be apart of, contains members whom collaborate and sustain. What they are undergoing is simply “up to them” but they must cooperate in the group. Continuing on, a society has made up relationships and connections that are very structured and well designed. They do so in making this by connecting with one another. The whole point of breaking that definition into pieces is because the given meaning behind a word we all use too loosely, sounds like something made up, basically fake. Something that contains patterns and setups, like technology. This definition more closely represents society today more than it did for the generation before us. The exact definition and its wording all sound like we could be data in a computer. The only thing that does not represent that is “through interaction with one another” which is something I have mentioned we have also lost, unless it’s through some sort of device. This very present and relevant definition of the word shows that we, and the societes we group ourselves into, have turned into the machine.

            How does technology affect groups this heavily? Well, first of all, the things we have made are made to make simple tasks easier. Instead of us all having different great qualities or skills, we use technology instead. Therefore no being has anything to contribute, therefore not actually being a real society. Instead, all of those electronics and gadgets contain the skills we once had, so in a way they are forming and becoming more of a society than we are. We musn’t rely on computers and smart electronics for everything or we lose everything. We do not want to become inferior to technology, if so we lose society.

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