Machines and IoT are becoming smarter than ever. Growth like this couldn’t have happened without the convergence of big data and AI. But, is that a good or bad thing?

Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to be controlled by good people, by people who love you.

Orson Scott Card

Literature has been warning us of the dangers of big data and AI for decades. Since the inception of computing, the potential dangers of creating machines that will overrun us has been a fear for many.

Today, with the addition of big data in the mix, some of those fears are beginning to become a reality and the stores of that data are growing at a breakneck rate. In fact, in the year 2017, we have processed more data as a society than in the entire history of the world.

This rate is only speeding up. It is expected that in ten years we will be processing so much data that it will double every twelve hours. Keep reading to learn what that will mean for the future of society.

The Fear

Soon, everything in our society will become intelligent. Already we have converted counters at many restaurants and stores from registers with people working them to computers being operated by the customer. In fact, it is predicted that in the next twenty years many of today’s top 500 companies are expected to vanish. As these jobs go away they will need to be replaced by new opportunities. Many people are concerned about the ability of the economy to keep up with the rate that this transition is taking place. The other half of the artificial intelligence issue is it is using big data to educate itself. But in order to understand how data can be so dangerous, you need to understand the incredible volume of data that is collected on a daily basis.

Big Data and AI Collide

Have you ever wondered why so many apps are free on the app store on your cell phone? You probably thought it was because the developers were selling banner ads and in-app purchases that would provide them with revenue. Unfortunately, there is something a little more sinister at play. Whenever you grant permissions to an app on your phone it begins to send small amounts of data to companies all over the world. Your information is going into a file somewhere that you have no control over. Sure, they may claim that your identity is anonymous, but often your profile is much more valuable than your name. The big business for apps these days is selling their customer’s profiles as big data. It is then put through several algorithms to come up with valuable insights about how to “nudge” people to do what they want.

Getting a “Nudge” from Big Data and AI

So what exactly is a “nudge” and how is it going to affect society at large? Well, the general idea behind the nudge is by using personalized data, companies will be able to feed on the emotions and feelings of their customers. They analyze things like what they are posting on Facebook about to target them to act in a certain way. In a marketing sense, this nudge can be a good thing. Never before have the advertisements presented to an audience been as spot on as they are now. Rather than being bothered by click bait, the sophisticated way marketing is done today often leaves the customer unaware that they were even being directed. This type of manipulation has been well documented. It is believed that the more tailored content is towards the user, the more likely that user is to think that they are acting on their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. In fact, there are very strong forces at work directing their attention to create those ideas.

For example, Facebook has admitted that they alter the content of people’s newsfeeds. You do not simply see the most recent posts from your friends, but rather you see the ones that the algorithms created by Facebook think you should be seeing.

It is kind of scary to think about the idea that the choices you are making and thoughts you are having are being implemented by an outside source. It is even more frightening to think about what could happen if this kind of research fell into the wrong hands.

Data Breaches in Big Data and AI

In fact, this big data does fall into the wrong hands all too often. Data breaches have occurred at most every major company in the world and even the White House has not managed to completely create security. This means that at any point in time your information, even if only a customer profile, is sitting on hundreds of different servers just waiting for someone to come along and mine it. Sometimes this is done legally and sometimes not. The legal way often means compiling these profiles into usable templates for marketers across the globe. This invasion of our privacy is the least of our worries.

The Results of Big Data and AI

The result of all this change is the massive overhaul of society. As the means of production were automated people were freed up to come into the city and work in the service and information sectors. This shift occurred mostly after World War II and came along with the advent of the Sears catalog and the consumer culture we know all too well today. Now, once again, a shift is taking place that will change the face of society as we know it. As many people’s jobs begin to be replaced by automation through big data and AI, society will once again have to shift its makeup. We can only hope that this change will be one for the better.


Compiling large amounts of data and letting algorithms run rampant through them is an ever-growing phenomenon. Every day we get a little bit closer to the automation of society and therefore grow closer to the possibility of actualizing our worst fears when it comes to artificial intelligence. But fear should be tapered by the joy of the possibilities of the world to use this technology for good, not just evil. If you would like to learn more about artificial intelligence or advanced mobility products, contact Terence Mills for guidance today.