A member of staff poses for a photograph in a projection of live data feeds taken from Twitter, Instagram and Transport for London, as he stands in the 'London Situation Room,' a n artwork created in collaboration with Future Cities Catapult & Tekja, during a photocall to promote the Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House in London on December 2, 2015. Justin Tallis/Stringer

Qué hacer ante los grandes riesgos del Big Data

NUEVA YORK – En los últimos 15 años hemos presenciado una explosión en la cantidad de datos digitales a nuestra disposición (desde Internet, las redes sociales, equipos científicos, los teléfonos inteligentes, cámaras de vigilancia y muchas otras fuentes) y en las tecnologías informáticas usadas para procesarlos. El "Big Data", como se los conoce, sin duda aportará importantes avances científicos, tecnológicos y médicos, pero también plantea serios riesgos si se abusa de él o se lo utiliza de manera inadecuada.

Hasta ahora, las innovaciones importantes como los motores de búsqueda en Internet, la traducción automática y el etiquetado de imágenes se han basado en la aplicación de técnicas de aprendizaje automático a vastos conjuntos de datos. Y, en un futuro cercano, el Big Data podría mejorar significativamente la formulación de políticas gubernamentales, los programas de bienestar social y los sistemas de becas.

Pero tener más datos no es un sustituto a tener datos de alta calidad. Por ejemplo, un artículo reciente de Nature informa que a los encuestadores electorales en los Estados Unidos les está costando obtener muestras representativas de la población, porque legalmente solo se les permite llamar a teléfonos fijos, mientras que los estadounidenses usan cada vez más teléfonos móviles. Y aunque uno puede encontrar innumerables opiniones políticas sobre las redes sociales, estas no representan de manera fiable a los votantes. De hecho, una parte sustancial de los tuits y mensajes de Facebook sobre política son generados por ordenador.

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