Monday Big Think: Will Big Data Kill Hypocrisy?

That’s the question posed by Jon Collins of techie blog Inter Orbis in this post on the IDG website. It’s a long read and an interesting mix of data analytics, philosophy, theology and meditation on where technology is going to take us next, but I think it’s worth the time. It raises some interesting questions about all the data we’re gathering and how we will use it to make decisions.

Collins also makes the interesting proposal that all this data gathering ultimately could lead to a disappearance of hypocrisy, which is all to the good, I guess, since hypocrites are not among society’s most liked people. Other than the fact that—as a quick check of a dictionary would have told him—he’s confusing hypocrisy with self-delusion, it’s still an intriguing proposition. If, as he says, the era of Perfect Data really means that, “while we may still be able to wangle ways to be dishonest with each other, it will become increasingly hard to fool ourselves,” it’s going to make for some interesting shifts in the way we think about belief, governance, human relationships, science and just about everything else.

Personally, I have my doubts whether even Big Data can overcome the human propensity to pick and choose our facts in the way that makes us most comfortable, much less the desire to fool others or appear better to them than we actually are. Still, Collins’ questions are worth asking.

To match Collins’ opening allusion to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, we’ve already sold our birthright of privacy for the mess of pottage that is the convenience of search engines, online banking and shopping, and gabbing on social networks. Who knows what we’ll be giving up—or accidentally unleashing—in our eagerness to jump on the bandwagon of the Internet of Things and Big Data?