The Dark Side of Big Data

31 May, 2013

Big data is another big hit poised to transform society, from how we diagnose illness to how we educate children and more. Data analytics is not considered a hype (yet?), however there a voices that send us an early warning about danger of thoughtlessly relying on the numbers when they are far more fallible than we think. Here is an impressive story about how a hyper-rational thinking, led astray by numbers, led the United States to escalate the Vietnam War partly on the basis of body counts, rather than basing decisions on more meaningful metrics.

The Google strategy of “running everything according to data”  has led to much of its success. But it also trips up the company from time to time. “That data eventually becomes a crutch for every decision, paralyzing the company.”, says Google’s top designer, Douglas Bowman, who quit in the company in 2009 because he couldn’t stand the constant quantification of everything.

Read the full article from MIT Technology Review:

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