Economic data is vital to running a business, organization, or nation. Governments and businesses gather a lot of it, and analyze it extensively, to provide better services to stakeholders. However, these same entities use this same data to delve into personal lives and influence personal behavior. Ordinary people need to understand all of these uses, know the benefits, and yet guard themselves and others.
By Mark D. Harris
The world is awash in data. The government obtains data, typically by querying governmental institutions, requiring reports from private industry and organizations, and surveying groups of stakeholders. No other organization could gather information of such depth and scope. Even if some other organization attempted to gather such a volume of data, they would not provide it free to inquirers. After collection, the government checks, analyzes, categorizes, and interprets the data. Finally, the government acts on and distributes the data, hopefully for the benefit of all its citizens. Governments may use information derived from data to position resources, cut crime, minimize poverty, prevent disease, aid business, and otherwise do good.
There are many dangers when anyone has too much information. Governments have so much data that they can violate privacy and manipulate people. Big tech and large companies, from Amazon to Zhejiang, can do the same. The literature is flooded with studies trying to discover the proper use of data and information in the modern world.
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