Our Lives In Data: 3 Takeaways

Data, and especially big data, has a certain appeal when uttered from the lips of Apple's Tim Cook and other deep-minded algorithm enthusiasts and marketers.

Image courtesy of The Science Museum

For those of us outside of the data mining bubble, It's easy to think our privacy is at stake or that these abstract collections of information hold the key to solving all problems, if we just leave it to the data magicians. How is data impacting our lives?

The London Science Museum's recent exhibition opening for Our Lives in Data was a gathering of some of the greatest thinkers in the field, all angling to explain the D word's latest implications. Here are the 3 main takeaways.

1.Data collection is getting personal

DNA sequencing company Illumina proudly showcased their HiSeq X Ten genome sequencer promising "Factory scale sequencing for population and disease studies". The machine looks like a friendly printer able to write out your DNA in no time and unlock your body's hidden secrets. Pandora box much ? Luckily, you can opt-in or out of certain bits of information. This technology has already proven invaluable to the medical industry, particularly in cancer research. However, it yields potential to raise ethical hurdles. Tanya Boyaniwsky, Director of Regional Marketing for Europe, Middle East & Africa at Illumina, envisages this type of technology being available at a low-cost to the general public in the not-so-far-future, on our smartphones.

2.You're more famous than you thought

Your casual Facebook post reaches four times as many people as you think it does. Over 90% of all available human data has been recorded in the last two years. Maybe that makes you tick, maybe it makes you want to return your new iPhone 7, either way - it's good to be mindful of.

3.We have to invest in the next generation of STEM professionals

To continue to harness the power of big data effectively, we have to input resources into educating the next generation and equipping them with the appropriate tools. We should also open up discussion surrounding data ownership: companies such as Big Brother Watch campaign on behalf of the individual to protect data privacy and scrutinize the work of the government and big businesses. Big data demands big questions and we, as citizens and consumers must keep our fingers on the pulse.

Co-authored by Eleanor Rachel, follow @EleanorRachelJ