The fascinating possibilities in the analysis and integration of 'big data'

                 The sheer volume and continuing rate of increase in the amount of stored data offers a burgeoning opportunity for data miners to make use of it all. Phone calls, e-mails, websearches, facebook messages, public data stores etc make it increasingly possible to identify trends and tastes, even wishes and loves, enabling us to pinpoint new oppor-tunities and problems. The Economist’s “World in 2012” mentions the National Institute for Clinical Excellence’s investigations into the potential costs and benefits of new drugs, Rolls Royce’s use of data to predict engine performance, Lexalytics – which analyses the sentimentof utterings on Twitter etc; and Klout, which measures the influenceof social media users (http://www.economist.com/theworldin/2012).
                 Picture what your mobile phone company could learn about you from how you use your phone, or Google from what you have been searching, and could use to make predictions about what will interest or excite you, where you may visit or what you will buy. Motion sensors can apparently tell when a skier (or for that matter an elderly person) has had a bad fall; programmes could tell from your plans when you should be purchasing more aspirins or condoms; and your Satnav could suggest to you a choice of eateries to stop at for lunch that might suit your taste – or your mood (or that of your fellow passenger); or places where you would enjoy a bed for the night.
               Google plus has recently helped users to be the different selves that we are to different people – to family, friends, relations, business colleagues or the general public, so as to enable those who would like to contact us to recognise the qualities by which they know us; but it is a cumbersome process and though people may be interested in the same things, their point of interest and their point of view may still be poles apart.
                   But as has been emphasised, privacy is an issue that stands in the way: we need to ensure that individuals benefit and do not suffer because of this integration; and while it is becoming slightly easier to contact people with similar interests, the hacking scandal illustrates how difficult it is to make information available that is of public value while maintaining personal privacy.  (See 
Big Data resources page at www.nesta.org)

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