The use and misuse of data

We are living in an era in which it is possible to generate and gather large amounts of data. This is fundamentally changing numerous aspects of our lives: how we shop, how we learn, how we are looked after when we are ill. In this section, we will take a closer look at the benefits and disadvantages of using data for decision-making.

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As more and more of our data is gathered, including information about what we do and how we do it, we need to be increasingly aware of how this data is used and how, unfortunately, it could be abused.

Data can be used to customise the services and products that we are offered: for example, Spotify has become very good at predicting our tastes in music based on what we have listened to, and recommending new music as a result. Amazon is also very good at showing us the products we are likely to want to buy, at the price point we are likely to be looking for, based on our previous purchases.

However, collection and analysis of data on this scale also has significant disadvantages. Our privacy is under threat like never before and, as we generate more data in more areas of our lives, we exponentially increase the risk of breaches that potentially have extremely negative consequences.

In her article ‘5 Ways Big Data Gets Misused’ (2018), Kayla Matthews looks at some of the ways data is used – and potentially misused.

Your task

Read Matthews’ 5 Ways Big Data Gets Misused about the use and misuse of data.

Identify three opportunities and three threats as a result of the increase in data collection.

Share your thoughts with other learners.

References

Mathews, K. (2018) ‘5 Ways Big Data Gets Misused’. Irish Tech News [online]. available from https://irishtechnews.ie/5-ways-big-data-gets-misused/[3 April 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

Decision-making and Risk: An Introduction

Coventry University