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|Wednesday, June 19, 2013|
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
I asked Thomas Thurston, the data scientist featured in our May issue, to comment on the uproar surrounding PRISM, the code name for the NSA's massive data-collection program, recently exposed in documents leaked by federal contractor Edward Snowden.
Here are my questions, followed by Thurston's email response.
OB: You use big data to benefit business. But how would you articulate the relationship between Big Data and political surveillance? Are the two natural bedfellows? there any lesson or insight to be gleaned about Big Data in the aftermath of the Snowden episode?
Thurston: Scientific discovery is like 'the force' in Star Wars – it can be used for good or bad. On its own, data science and 'big data' are neutral. They allow humanity to do things it couldn't before. This is great when it comes to curing disease and stopping crime, but it can also raise difficult social issues as we're seeing now.
The prime example is when Target used big data to determine a teenage girl was probably pregnant. They started sending her coupons and ads for babies, causing her father to storm into a Target store and give a wicked scolding to the manager on duty. A little while later the father went back to Target and apologized after going home to learn his daughter actually was pregnant and hadn't told him yet. Big data knew his daughter was pregnant before he did! That's a great example of how big data is powerful, but can also be a little creepy.
Linda Baker keeps tabs on CEO and public policy issues.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Watch this OB Original Video about three Oregon companies and how crowd-funding "kickstarted" their business ideas.
Friday, April 04, 2014
BY ERIC FRUITS
The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?
Thursday, March 20, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER
I don’t think anyone can (or should) remember what it was like to get things done without the internet. This milestone in technology has certainly benefited brick-and-mortar companies and subsequently launched a new era of businesses.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.
Friday, April 11, 2014
TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The auto industry is starting to share more costs across manufacturers for complex and challenging design work, like new transmission design, and certain new engine technologies. What we’re not yet seeing is wholesale outsourcing of “unavoidable waste” components to specialist companies.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
A blueberry bush is a blueberry bush — except when it’s a blueberry tree.
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