There are two sides to almost every part of cloud, and for me, one of the biggest two sided coins is data mining. It’s impossible to exist in any form online without mass amounts of data being tracked and mined in the back-end. It’s a scary thing. While there are great free services like Google and Facebook, we all know that in return for these services we pay with our privacy. Other companies pay these service providers to make me a target for their ads based. And with more and more software and services placed in the cloud, the desire for companies to leverage these services as a source of data to help drive revenue will become more invasive. But there is an upside (in my opinion) to data mining, an upside that could help mankind advance through leaps and bounds. This upside is in science.
There are great examples of how people are working with social networks to mine enough data to help cure disease and save humanity. Not to sell more gadgets and clothing, but to help make the world a better place.
Take Nicholas Christakis and his work on using network analysis to help identify early signs of flu pandemics to help prevent hundreds of millions of deaths. There is also Larry Brilliant (I love the name), the Executive Director of Google.org (the philanthropic arm of Google) who is using the world’s biggest cache of information to help detect and avert pandemics. Sadly Dr. Brilliant is no longer with Google.
But why not have patients sign up for a tracking study and input information that can be analyzed with tools that are only possible with new advances in Cloud & Big Data? The data that would emerge would provide so much information about how patients respond to different treatments that we could make significant leaps in medicine and science. And since (I assume) information would be collected with consent in the hopes of helping more people who may share a disease to understand the treatments and effects.
Now if we extend this to social media, how fast could we find information about the spread of disease? It would be a great source of data that could be mined to look for key triggers that could explain the source of the outbreak. We never had such access to data before, and it is something that we should look more closely at. Ofcourse, only with consent of participants.