Skip to Content

Big Data, a day in the life: The Nightmare

Sogeti Labs
November 27, 2012

In two posts I will try to answer the question: what could your day look like if Big Data becomes the norm? Of course, this scenario has a utopian outcome, but also a more dystopian outcome. I will explore both options. Last week I wrote about big data as the foundation of the ideal world.

Today we take a look at the nightmare that Big Data could be. Big Data: a day in the life.

You wake up in the morning from the sound of your mobile phone ringing. Apparently a company that you did business with in the past has determined that 6:45 on Monday is the best time to call you about buying a new mattress, since your old one has indeed begun to wear out. … By reading your involuntary actions and eye movements, your tablet device has turned the news selection you read every morning into a harmless and entertaining feed of articles which confirm your world view and make you feel good about it. Short funny video clips are blended in to keep you entertained. You live in a filter bubble. … The coffee place you visit on your way to work knows who you are and serves you your morning coffee exactly as you like it. Through careful combination of narrowcasting, the scent near the entrance and the exact personalized phrasing of the barista, you are triggered to buy something to eat too, even though you were not particularly hungry. You leave the uneaten sandwich in the car. Your interaction with businesses in general is one filled with seduction. Companies know exactly how to push your buttons, so you have a hard time standing up to all the offers presented to you. Most often, before you developed a real need, some company has already sold something to you. Life is good. All communication is very personalized and uses information from your past to make you pay attention. Your credit card provider informs you with every purchase how it would affect your credit score and your ‘general profile’. For example buying too much unhealthy food will make you show up in the statistics of your health insurance company. They have crafted a personalized health plan for you based on your DNA profile and family and peer statistics. The plan doesn’t cover anything that you have a too high chance to contract from the start. You are well aware of the costly illnesses that are in your genes and in your stars, and you are saving to pay for them later in life. Also, you regret drinking too much beer in college. … As an HR director, your days are filled by reviewing lists of pre-selected job candidates who have been screened against all possible risks. Anyone who has high risk hobbies, extreme political views, a history of drug abuse or anyone who frequently posts about alcohol in a social setting is put lower on the list. People of whom no continuous data-track of the last 10 years can be found are not on the list. From the people who work for you, any abnormality in their behavior shows up on your dashboard and you resolve problems long before they arise. Anyone posting too many negative posts on Facebook gets a mandatory checkup for work-related depression. Your employees are happy. … You spend your evenings watching an endless stream of media clips, web-pages and funny pictures that are simply too good to switch off. You are squarely hooked on consuming digital media. You don’t fear big brother at all, but you may wonder about the many many little brothers watching your every move. You are tempted to order pizza online, but decide against it. Who knows…

About the author

SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Slide to submit