Birmingham Salon

BIG DATA: Big Brother or Big Society?

Thursday 10th November, 7.30pm at The Victoria, John Bright Street, Birmingham B1 1BN

Everyone from the government to your supermarket wants to know all about you – your interactions, your movements through real and virtual spaces, what you like to do, how you spend your money and much more besides.  Surveillance technology has been expanding for decades, but questions about who on earth is going to sift through all this information and make sense of it are now being answered.  New developments in software are giving the state and big business the means to put all these bits of information together and map out the patterns of our daily lives.   The big society means big data!

When it comes to making evacuation plans in the event of a natural disaster, bringing greater efficiency into businesses, or developing crime prevention strategies, this is not all bad news. But who should have the right to know so much about our private lives?  How can we be certain how they will use it or who they will share it with?

Even if all our personal information can be kept anonymous are big data algorithms the best way to make sense of human behaviour?  Are we merely data points in a scientific meta-analysis? Are these techniques set to extend the power of the nudge, influencing our behaviour in ever more subtle ways? 

The debate is produced and will be chaired by Chrissie Daz

Timandra Harkness, author of a new book entitled ‘Big Data: Does Size Matter?’ will be tackling these questions and more.