Access to lots of fast moving data without the thoughtful and ethical involvement of human beings spells disaster. A poignant example of this is the use of so-called Big Data by the three major credit agencies in America. Experian, Equifax, and Transunion have done great harm to the lives of millions of Americans through their irresponsible use of data. According to a new FTC report published today, mistakes exist on the credit reports of 20% of Americans. Credit reports are used to grant or deny access to loans and other services. Not only are these agencies getting the facts wrong far too often, but they are making if virtually impossible for people to get these mistakes corrected.
If you want to understand the horror faced by millions of Americans, watch the report that was aired by 60 Minutes last night. It will chill you to the bone and make you angry. Credit agencies are hiding behind walls of Big Data, using it as an impenetrable barrier to the fair treatment that people deserve. The algorithms that these agencies use for credit scoring are enshrined in mystery, hidden from public scrutiny.
Data, no matter what its size, speed, or source, must pass through the hands and minds of thoughtful and ethical people. It is necessary for people who understand data and are committed to using it ethically are part of the process, otherwise, Big Data can become an oppressor much like Big Brother, holding senseless sway over our lives. You can’t fight data! You can only appeal to human beings. When human beings are removed from the process, when human brains and empathy are circumvented, to whom will you turn for reason and justice?