There's an old joke that goes like this: “There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.” Like most old jokes, it's built around a kernel of truth. If you cram enough training in mathematics and science into a person's brain, it changes not just how they think, but how they see the world. It's hard to overstate just how deep this shift goes, but it's akin to the “overview effect” experienced by astronauts during spaceflight, in which suddenly seeing the planet from a different perspective induces a profound sense of oneness and connection. But for engineers and other types of data scientists, I suspect that the effect goes in the opposite direction. It seems like there's an inclination among some who work with large bodies of data, be they NSA cryptologists or Facebook researchers, to view their data as something separate from the individual citizens and consumers that those data points represent. And I believe that this disconnection goes a long way towards explaining the tensions in the modern big data world. Read more » about Big Data and the Perceptual Divide
The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.