The participants were confronted with varied and often contradictory opinions about Big Data during Friday morning.
Dirk Helbling, Professor of Computational Science at the ETH in Zürich talked about the dark and the sunny sides of Big Data, emphasising that the route that big companies take at the moment, aiming at creating a society that is running “like a machine” thanks to data is the wrong way. He believes that only if we create inter-connectedness, acknowledge the importance and diversity of human interaction and let people use the algorithms available to create new, networked and crowdsourced solutions, will we truly benefit from Big Data and not be defined by it.
Peter Regli, former Head of the Swiss Intelligence service, pointed the participants to all the threats and incidents that make our reality fragile.
Martin Erkens from Roche explained how Big Data is used at the forefront of Health Sciences to create drugs that take information from large sets of people but create tailor made solution for individual patients.
Philosopher Nicole des Bouvrie urged the participants not to forget that they live in a reality that is created by themselves and their surroundings and to find ways to transcend that bubble and to create new solutions. She also pointed out that all assumptions that we have about the world must be questioned and tested often and rigorously. Find her presentation online
Dr. Mausbach, Oberassistent for Law at the University of Zürich, introduced the participants to the fact that the law at the moment is not up for the challenges we are facing with Big Data. And finally, Volker Birk made it clear to participants that privacy is only an illusion at the moment, and he implored them to get active to tell their political representatives that they are not happy with this situation.
The following panel discussion was very dense and it was a challenge to cover all the potential threads and subtopics that Big Data presents. But the participants asked excellent questions.