By Sarmad Shahbaz
You might have heard the trending punchline – “data is the new oil”. For me, data is more beneficial and more important in today’s world than ‘outdated’ oil – bearing in mind Tesla’s rise in the global market. In fact, everything happening around us is now categorised into data patterns. Human life today can be described as a series of data trends. We use raw data to create the present, learn from the past and predict the future. But how do we define data? And how exactly is it being used to shape and affect our lives?
Currently, big guns like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are building their fortune and running their enterprises on data – which can be described, in its simplest form, as information. Data is the knowledge about a certain thing. It is what companies use to track their customer’s choices and online and offline practices, and to help them make decisions about how to interact with these users.
Netflix is using data-driven techniques to decide which web series, movies, and shows to promote on its website. Facebook tailors its marketing, posts and updates to each account. Amazon suggests products based on your shopping history.
So how do they do it? Of course, no one is using Harry Porter’s magic wand to predict what a user wants to see. This all is done through the ‘magic’ of converting raw online user data into meaningful intelligence. This process, called data analysis, is the examination, transformation, and arrangement of data in particular ways that helps us extract useful information.
Data analytics, on the other hand, is the terminology used to describe the science of the complete management of data. This not only includes analysis, but also data collection, organisation, storage, and all the tools and techniques used. These two concepts are perhaps the most important aspects of data science and, of course, critical to the inner workings of big companies, enterprises, and industries.
There is no doubt that data science is gaining significance in every aspect of life. From medicine, to engineering, to computer and life sciences, data is the knowledge, essence, and the building block of our future. But it has also sparked questions and debates about its credibility and transparency.
Here are some of the issues of concern.
- Privacy & Protection:
Creating a world of endless data collection and digitisation has increased concerns about the ease of privacy breaches. The protection and privacy of users’ data is a big question mark for leading technology firms. There are real life scenarios which could really affect individuals such as your data being shared with a third party company where an ‘ex’ is working.
- Unreliability & Mis-Predictions:
Future predictions can vary and can be false if the first-hand data is not reliable. There are cases where the data has not been effective or has led to false predictions. How does one know the data is complete? And even if it is complete, how can we ascertain that the information collected is correct?
- Unlimited Evolution:
While we welcome innovation and evolution, the sheer scope of data’s evolution is worrying. We are generating an enormous amount of data every single second, which is widening the horizon of data management. This means that it is near to impossible to conquer the field of data science because the knowledge of data is always expanding (ironically – just like our universe).
In conclusion, data, indeed, has become an essential part of everyday life. Our lives are being shaped and directed by it. Soon, it will be merged with fields like politics, ultimately, remodelling global systems. I believe this will trigger the quickest revolution in the history of humanity.
And before we get lost in a world where data usurps human instinct and decision-making, global leaders need to explore and discuss the unforeseen pros and especially cons of data in human life; because privacy, protection, and reliability are principles that are critical to healthy and thriving societies.
After reading this article, I hope you will start questioning the future, to make sense of the present.
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