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Oec. Magazin 2

René Algesheimer, Professor of Marketing and Market Research and Director of the University Research Priority Program on «Social Networks» a valued traveller’s favourite meal, but even po- tentially holding an entire flight, based on calcu- lations regarding the benefit to the customer and potential disadvantage to all the others on board. Heavy responsibilities No matter how breathtaking the possibilities, both professors stress big data comes with an equally big health warning. They point not just to concerns after recent media revelations about government snooping, but far wider issues. «Big data comes with big risks and requires big judgements», stresses Algesheimer. There are plenty of examples where raw big data can ac- tually lead to poor decisions. Take DNA testing: all those crime series on TV suggest it’s always foolproof and the cops invariably nail the right suspect. «But actually, DNA matches are based on levels of probability. Predictive analysis in general is all about probability. Big data comes with big responsibilities. You need specific trai- ning in the pitfalls of data analysis.» The risks are not limited to expertise in hand- ling probabilities accurately. «Each use comes potentially with a huge number of problems», says Bernstein. «In many cases, people may not even be aware of the ramifications of the data ga- thered – or that it’s being gathered at all.» Take something as simple as electricity, he explains. Smart meters, with communications skills, in people’s homes, and appliances with ever more sensors, mean more and more data is being col- lected – almost as a side effect. But he notes there are real issues here about the information collec- ted about our individual behaviour. A lot of in- formation about you is held without your even knowing. Medicine is a particularly sensitive case. Breakthroughs in molecular biology have opened the door to ever more so called «personalised medicine» - treatments tailored to an individu- al’s one-off biological makeup. But pressure on health budgets and efforts by insurers to cap pre- miums potentially raise deep issues about how this increasingly detailed personal data is stored and used. Would one welcome, for example, a world where an individual’s health history could potentially be predicted, and then reflected in a purely personalised insurance policy? That might suit the healthy, but what of those with chronic or very serious diseases? «If you collect data, you have to be very care- ful what you do with it. You could potentially make people’s lives very miserable», observes Bernstein. «People have to understand, big data isn’t explaining everything. It needs to be accom- panied by human interpretative skills and moral judgements», adds Algesheimer. «Big Data comes with big responsibilities. You need specific training in the pitfalls of data analysis.» Prof. Dr. René Algesheimer Oec. Dezember 2014 15 Oec. Dezember 201415