Big data is the new A-bomb

Not since Robert Oppenheimer faced down his demons after spearheading the Manhattan Project have scientists been faced with as big an ethical dilemma as big data represents, says Albert-László Barabási,a physicist and network scientist at Northeastern University and Harvard Medical School, in a Politico op-ed this past week.

“This summer, while visiting my hometown in Transylvania, I had the opportunity to talk with a neighbor who spent years as a political prisoner. Once freed … he received transcripts of his own communications after the fall of communism. They spanned seven volumes. It was toxic and dehumanizing. … So why are we beginning to spread communism 2.0 around the world, a quarter-century after the Iron Curtain’s collapse? This is effectively what NSA surveillance has become. If we scientists stay silent, we all risk becoming digitally enslaved,” Barabási wrote.