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Why Big Data Desperately Needs Transparency

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People have an innate suspicion of numbers.

We understand that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is too complex to be boiled down to the number 42 (according to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), but in the search to quantify our existence, we do allow our lives to be ruled by numbers. We count the calories in our food, we count the minutes on our daily commute, and we definitely count the number of emails in our inboxes. We use our experience to decide which numbers are good and which numbers are bad. If we didn’t manage our lives by numbers, we would be obese, late and overwhelmed.

However, there are increasing amounts of data in our lives where we are not certain of the origin. The failure of opinion polling has already been widely debated, and if such a “fine art” can get it wrong, who is to say that Big Data is any different? Isn’t polling Big Data by another name? We haven’t really got a clue how these opinion pollsters got their figures, and most corporate people are equally unsure where all their stats are conjured up from.

If Big Data is to have the impact that it …

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