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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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The Dark Side of Big Data: NSA's Surveillance Program

June 10, 2013, 10:30 AM

What's the Latest Development?

Former CIA data operative Edward Snowden has claimed responsibility for leaking the NSA's massive phone and Internet surveillance program to American journalist Glenn Greenwald. The whistleblower recently recorded a video interview with the journalist in a Hong Kong hotel room, claiming that the public must decide matters of national security rather than be subject to the covert action of its government. The government, and the media companies from which it gathered data, including Google, Verizon, and Facebook, claim the data gathered is legal and constitutes a minimal invasion of privacy.

What's the Big Idea?

The data gathered by the government includes personal information, such as telephone numbers, coupled with location data which has now become routine for suppliers of electronic content to take from its customers. The data are also used for the public good, such as when Google maps the distribution of the flu virus spreading through urban areas. "Big data itself is founded on theory. And once you’ve manufactured data with instruments that operate according to certain theories, you then need to analyse it theoretically." Consumers have so readily given over personal information in exchange for tantalizing software. Is it too late to turn back? Should we want to?

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at the New Statesman


The Dark Side of Big Data: ...

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