We hear about big data all the time in the news. Whether it’s a new way for computers to search through your emails, a data leak that puts our privacy at risk, or a new feature for social media, big data always seems to be making headlines.
But there is so much more to these stories than the headlines, and this is what we will explore in a new exhibition at the Science Museum this summer. Our Lives in Data will highlight the revolution in technology that is happening both behind the scenes and right in front of our eyes.
Smaller and smarter computers mean that we can now collect more information from more places and then find patterns in it incredibly quickly. This new movement in the information age is what powers Facebook, Google, our transportation systems, energy grids, health care, and even mapping the stars.
We are able to make predictions by looking at huge amounts of information in such a way that it has never been done before. To give just a few examples, 1.6 billion Facebook profiles, 4.6 billion mobile phones worldwide, over a billion websites and 19 million daily journeys on the London Underground all generate a lot of data.
This data doesn’t simply disappear, it is carefully stored and logged.
Big data is developing so quickly it is difficult to see where it’s going. It is working its way into more and more of our lives but, since it’s expanding so rapidly, we have barely had a chance to ask questions and see what this really means for us.
Our Lives in Data will help to start that conversation, exploring what big data is capable of: smarter cities, efficient industry and personalised service, but also with a risk to privacy and individuality.
Like it or not, the big data revolution is happening. Visit Our Lives in Data from 15 July 2016 to see what this means for us today and what the future might hold.
Sheldon Paquin is a Content Developer in the Contemporary Science Team.