November 24, 2014, by ICCSR

Keeping a watchful digital eye on the ethics of big data

A twitter feed examining the ethics of big data is being run by our very own Paul Caulfield.

Paul, who is Director of MBA in CSR at the ICCSR, is posting tweets with the hashtag #iccsrbigdata that consider the social, cultural, and ethical issues arising from big data.

The idea came to Paul after he attended a ‘Big data and big business’ conference organised by the Centre for International Business and Management in London earlier this year. He began sending live tweets from the event with snippets on what he was hearing and what he was thinking. Having got the bug, he has carried on from there.

Paul’s ‘twitterings’ pay particular attention to the debate around the potential use or abuse of big data by business and government. ‘We can probably expect enormous changes as our entire social lives become digitized,’ he says. ‘The aim of the tweets is to reflect on what all of this could mean for our technological, social, commercial, educational, and personal lives.’

And what is big data? Essentially it’s any collection of digital information that is so huge or complex that we don’t currently have the capacity to fully analyse it. In the future, when technology allows, such data may be ‘mined’ for information by various parties. It is therefore of particular interest to businesses wishing to get their hands on invaluable information about, for instance, the habits of consumers.

Paul says his interest in the field was partly sparked by his observation that many people were suddenly declaring themselves experts in the field, despite its infancy. ‘Big data has become a huge buzzword recently and I’m sure I’m not the only person whose inbox is swollen with junk-mail from hosts of self-invented “data-scientist-consultant-coach-trainers” proclaiming expertise over the 15 minutes of fame big-data has so far enjoyed,’ he observes.

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