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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.

Works Cited:


Texts Sending Their Own Messages


How different technologies have influenced relationships.   


Critical Questions:

How is the use of technology affecting the relationships in people’s lives and what aspects of the relationships are being affected?

How are different generations being affected?



Today, more than one-third of relationships are credited to have been started online. With technology as abundant in everyday life as it is today, disconnecting has become difficult. Use of items like phones, social media, and online dating sites are leaving a lasting impact on our relationships.

Continue reading

Big Data is Everywhere


How big data has changed the way we live our everyday lives


Critical Questions:


Who are the people taking in and analyzing this data? And what are they doing with it?


Is the collecting of big data from big industries a breach on our privacy?


How have companies utilized big data from their customers to format the overall production of their products?


Is government surveillance of our data against our privacy rights? Continue reading

Technology in the Classroom

With technology becoming an inescapable force upon society it begs the questions as to what are some downfalls of technology. Technology is used for many reasons by various people, from mindlessly scrolling through social media to conducting research; many rely on technology. Over the past few years’ technology has begun to infiltrate the classroom. Technology has become a learning aid for many students in the classroom and has provided helpful support for teachers. However, there are drawbacks to the presence of technology in the classroom. Studies have been conducted to prove such drawbacks. As more and more students are exposed to technology in the classroom researchers have discovered that the amount of students who have learning disabilities has increased.

Continue reading

The Educational Divide Between Science and Literature

C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures discusses the cultural divison between the field of science and the humanities. He begins with a historical assessment of the respective fields of study and their degree of influence throughout time. From there, he goes on to explain how science is the more applicable to our current society and that it will continue to gain prevalence in the future. As a liberal arts student I am predisposed to oppose this argument, however when I think about it honestly, I have to admit that the study of information, data, and analysis will proceed to play an increasingly relevant role in our daily lives.

I believe that in the coming decades, the fields of science and technology will continue to become a necessary element of our every day routines. The decline of hard-copy, handwritten material is a major indicator of this. With electronic substitutes for everything springing up everywhere we look, it is clear that a thorough understanding and acceptance of science is absolutely inevitable. Almost every position for current college graduates looking to enter the workforce requires a high level of comfort with a wide array of computer systems, data manipulation, and numerical analysis. I expect this trend to continue and accelerate along with the abundant increases in technology and science.

However, I do presume that while it is still quite a while down the road, the humanitarian studies will begin to adapt and become integrated with technological sciences. Areas like law, publishing, and literature in general will begin to become intertwined with new programs and systems and allow them to regain a prominent role in our society. Programs will arise in which certain logical and qualitative resources can be analyzed and produced. The advances in science and technology will allow certain decisions that were once determined by human logic, to be simulated by data analysts and scientists. Soon articles once crafted by humans to break news, stories, and provide outlook on current events will by synthesized by programs that are able to analyze the information and churn out literature for consumers.

This is not to say that the creative ability of humans will cease to remain relevant, I simply believe that in the near future many traditionally human crafts will be met by technological automation. Much like many fields have recently been forced to adapt and redefine their role in an era of internet and technology, the field of humanities will surely begin to do so. It is difficult to predict the way in which this pivot will result, but it is simply matter of time before the natural process of evolution causes this realm of intellect to remodel itself.

I fundamentally agree that a thorough understanding of literature and science is essential in order to develop a complete and well-rounded education. The current reign of technology in our generation may make it seem as though the former is becoming obsolete, but I expect that within our lifetime we will witness a return of liberal arts prominence.

The Rise of Women in Science & Technology

Aristotle’s claim that men are complete, perfect beings, while women are simply incomplete males is an inherently wrong claim that has regrettably permeated the field of science and technology to this very day. The recent scandals in Silicon Valley with companies like Uber and Google have highlighted this issue. Despite many companies today working hard to promote a message of inclusion, equal opportunity, and open mindedness, many of these companies are no different than the sexists of the past. I do believe that there are fundamental differences between men and women, but I can firmly state that these differences are limited to the physical attributes.

I am a male and I am absolutely horrible at math and science. Since elementary I have struggled with numbers, data, and analysis. However, I have always been strongly drawn towards the humanities, it is something that basically just clicked with me from an early age. In class on Wednesday we discussed how teachers in elementary school tend to push boys towards math and science subjects and for that reason men are typically stronger in those areas. That talk struck a chord with me. I can not begin to express how much I hate dealing with numbers. I have loved my time at Colby because for once in my life I have had the opportunity to pursue my true passion, politics. As a government major, I am taking classes that are genuinely interesting to me and applicable to my interests. I have also met women here who are so skilled and strong in mathematical subjects. I believe that the supposed male disposition to math and science is a complete fabrication. While the statistics may point to more men excelling in these fields may disagree with me, I am of the opinion that humans have the ability to determine their own interests and it is much more of a “nurture” factor than “nature”.

I contend that males are pressured into certain career paths due to the societal construct that men are expected to be the breadwinners in typical American households. Careers in finance, business, and technology are typically high paying and for that reason men are drawn to careers in those fields. This is an issue that I have struggled with while considering a career in the political realm, I have felt pressured to find a career that will allow me to provide a stable financial background for my family. As the role of women continues to evolve, I believe that this tragic construct will continue to diminish.

For the longest time women have been expected to run the “home”, care for children, and take jobs that allow them to play a major role at home. This is finally changing, women are now able to prioritize their careers and pursue careers in high-paying sectors. This development will certainly show that women are taking to new careers in the business and science industries and the male monopoly will begin to diminish. I could not be more excited by this development and I am excited by what the future holds for the role of women in the workplace.

The Monster Inside All of Us

While we live in the most technologically advanced society in the history of mankind, we tend to neglect the fact that we as people have developed true relationships with technology. While our generation can be labeled as the most technologically savvy and advanced, we are also branded as the age of people who cannot live without it. While it is obvious any generation in the world today cannot survive without things like smartphones and computers, our age group has almost taken it to a disgusting extent. Our generation must realize that our obsession with new creations has made a monster inside all of us which needs to be dealt with. The most difficult part about the fixations with technology is that it has almost become a social norm for us, which makes it that much harder to address. Continue reading

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