Chapter 7 Database Applications and Privacy Implications

Many people believe that privacy is a thing of the past. It’s true that our networked world makes it harder to keep secrets. But there are many things you can do to protect your privacy online. This Huffington Post article clearly outlines some quick fixes you can make in a few minutes.

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The digital technology explosion of the last decade has produced many new threats to our privacy, including some unexpected ones. In this short TED talk, Catherine Crump explains how the automatic license plate scanners used by police might have disastrous ramifications for law-abiding citizens.

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng/id/2149

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Surfing the Fourth Dimension

January 23, 2014

In the last few years we’ve become accustomed to Google Earth and similar apps that give us the power to “go” almost anywhere in a matter of seconds. Massive geographical databases put the world at our fingertips. In this TED talk Frederic Kaplan describes a research project that adds another dimension—time—to our search capabilities.

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Singing the Praises of Big Data?

January 8, 2014

Most of us have an uneasy relationship with big databases: We take advantage of the convenience and freedom they bring to us, but we don’t really like the fact that they know so much about us. Singer/songwriter Vienna Teng captures the tension that exists between those contradictory feelings in her beautiful, slightly chilling Hymn of Acxiom.

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Is Privacy History?—Snowden’s Message

January 2, 2014

Earlier this year Edward Snowden made a decision that changed the world. By leaking top secret government documents to the press, he revealed that US surveillance of private and public citizins goes far beyond what most of us had previously imagined. Because of those leaks, people all around the world are asking important questions about the balance between privacy and security in a free society.

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Are You Ready for a Face Phone?

May 14, 2013

When Apple released the iPhone, the world changed. People were carrying powerful computers in their pockets and purses. Developers released a bevy of creative apps to harness that always-available computing power. Today it’s hard to imagine a world without smart phones. Could Google Glass, the wear-on-your-face computer from Google, be the beginning of the next revolution in personal computing? This short NPR story explains how early adopters plan to use their prototype high-tech specs.
Of course, not everyone views Google Glass through such rose-colored lenses. This Saturday Night Live skit mocks the idea that Google Glass can be used discreetly; other detractors question our need to become even more dependent on our technology.

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Why Big Data Is a Big Deal

January 4, 2013
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More and more, we’re living in a data-driven world. In this excellent little piece that aired recently on NPR’s Fresh Air, Geoff Nunberg gives one of the clearest explanations we’ve seen of what Big Data is and why it’s important to all of us. http://www.npr.org/2012/12/20/167702665/geoff-nunbergs-word-of-the-year-big-data

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Watson Isn’t Just Playing Games Anymore

December 5, 2012
Watson doc

IBM’s Watson, the famous artificial-intelligence system that became a quiz show champ, is now poised to transform the fields of medicine, finance, education, and more. Is Watson leading us into a whole new era of cognitive computing? This fascinating Fast Company article puts Watson in the context of today’s data-driven world and speculates on a future that’s much bigger than talking smart phones.

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Uncovering Secrets in Government and Medicine

October 25, 2012
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The information explosion raises important questions about the free flow of information versus the threat to personal privacy. These two TED Talks present cases for more open information in government and medicine.

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A Big Picture of Big Data

September 27, 2012
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The Internet teems with data waiting to be analyzed by companies, government, and savvy individuals. Big data has become an industry buzzword as more businesses and governments find ways to tap into the mountains of data our digital devices produce every day. Photographer Rick Smolan’s latest project is to make big data—and its impact on us—visible. This Huffington Post article describes this crowdsourced work of art and includes a direct link to The Human Face of Big Data.

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