Viewpoint: It’s time for data to serve a higher social purpose

Friday, February 8, 2019

By Rajiv Shah

In 2011, data scientist Jeff Hammerbacher, infamously lamented, “the best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”

It turns out, ads were just the beginning.

More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day, which combined with rapidly advancing analytics technology, could be used to improve billions of lives – yet the industry is only living up to a fraction of that potential.

Evidence abounds of the data revolution’s dark side. We’ve heard a lot about companies following our every move online so they can sell us things. There are many reports of countries using new technologies to monitor their citizens and manipulate election results.

The bottom line is this: data and humanity – and data and business – are now intertwined, and there is no going back.

Photo courtesy of Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation (link opens in a new window)

data, global development