India needs to be aware of the dystopian ramifications of the state and private corporations accessing our personal information (“ >The Big Data conundrum ”, May 20). On the one hand, it is reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984 , while on the other our abject complicity in all this is reflective of a Mephistophelian deal. We appear to be strangely complacent and seem to have made peace with getting unsolicited e-mails, calls and messages without bothering about how our personal information has been or is being accessed by strangers. Also, when the state moves towards acquiring our data, it does this without any legal basis, parliamentary or constitutional scrutiny. Why are we so blind to this danger?
Ever since I became aware of the nuances of India’s UID scheme, a sense of foreboding has begun dominating my thoughts on the nature of the fast-changing relationship between state and citizen. The public has become immune to the dangerous idea that technology is always good and infallible, failing to notice that the world is turning out to be a single panopticon state where the database is replacing democracy. Why is it that the media, our intelligentsia and even activists have not approached the issue with the seriousness it deserves?
The article was summed up in the question: “Will politics yield to Analytics”? Another little thought about ‘Big Data’. In the good old days, names and terms were chosen with care and profound implication. I cringe when I see terms like “the Internet of Things”, “bird-beak effect”, and “the Big Data”. What do these terms say other than the obvious fact that data is huge? I posed this question to a friend who works in IBM and leads the Big Data initiative. All he could say was that data is big and unstructured and they have to devise clever algorithms to make sense out of that heap of haphazard information. In the end, humanity needs something to keep itself busy with. ‘Big Data’ is one of those things.