HR Frankly

Big Data – The Noise. The Siren. The Caution

Big Data made ripples in Board rooms world over a good seven years ago. It was like the coming of a massive bullet train that strangely was blowing steam before its arrival. Dark grey foggy steam. Nobody really knew what scientists and academicians were talking about. Very few really comprehended source points of data and how this can be valuable to anyone.

Who didn’t understand the depth or the vastness of the subject simply held on to the one line that is commonly attached to Big Data – The Modern Goldmine. But why was this being hyped so much and why did it supersede Blockchain the other new bad boy of business? If hypes are studied antiseptically, they are simple to understand. Jatropha made noise in 1990’s because it promised to be the next biofuel making land rich, agriculture-oriented countries hold the potential of turning into oil barons. Many countries began salivating. Many experimented growing the crop. But yield and the production process was far from what was forecasted. Jatropha bid us goodbye within a decade of experiments. Moral of the story – Where there is ample money and promise of power, comes precarious excitement.

Big Data came in promising a new oil that will make the world turn upside down. It would place power in the hands of who has the data, can use the data, manipulate the users of the data, and maybe “sell” the data. It meant that this vehicle could be used to change destiny, outcomes, and maybe even political realities. The biggest trump card Big Data is said to have is the ability to interfere with natural human thinking and affect behaviour, if used with that kind of direction.

The world has seen many items manufactured, tools invented and simulations designed that can feed our basic needs to even narcissism. When the internet happened, we had many who predicted a decadent generation that will have no urge to move nor think for themselves. Some parts true, the prophecy however, did not tell us what was going to happen with all that material we were parking on the internet though.

Now we can see over the years of internet use and global digitalization, our thoughts, ideas, views, interests are seeds that we threw like wild oats. Someone went into that enormous vast land to collect that. A fishing expedition of no ordinary feat; it has managed to collect, process, sift and make sense of data. Today that data can be processed to figure you out head to toe, inside out and even dip into abstracts or sub conscious thinking orientations. Fact file on you that you perhaps have not comprehended fully yourself. When such data is compounded into groups which cuts and slices across demographics, geography, political inclinations, ideology and more a neat predictive index crops up on objective graphs telling the buyer of this information what ought to be the next things to say or do that will mitigate an issue or migrate a belief. We as consumers of information can thus be turned into lab rats anytime anyone, so desires and we will not have a clue.

When hacking became big, ethical hacking was brought in to prevent misuse. The world today needs ethical BIG DATA to make sure, what some sci-fi movies dared to predict for our race does not come true. If let loose, we are on the brink of a disaster that is so slow and so smooth we will have no clue and before we know it we all are living in The Island 2005 film on clones and managed data for managed thinking.

Maybe there are parallel truths. The owner of the world in the future, the next Monarch will not be anything like we have known. He will have no army, no flag, no invasion, no territory, no treasure, no plundering, no conversion, and no bloodshed. The army is its tech rich employees. The flag is the company logo. The invasion is on our privacy. The territory is the world of Digital users. The treasure is Data. The conversion of our minds is managed by pushed narratives. Many are converted stealthily with no pain and no realization. The bloodshed is the last piece left – what will it be? The end of a culture, philosophy, political outlook, faith, or species in the long run?

Maybe Simpson’s will tell us our future eh?

Seema Raghunathan

A Business & HR professional with forty percent of career in leading an HR Business consultancy. The remainder of her 24-year work experience was spent in Corporate India. Her experience traversed respected brands like Standard Chartered Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Fullerton India, and John Deere with exposure in Banks, NBFC, Insurance, ITES, and Manufacturing & Consulting.
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