The cutting edge of Big Data looked a lot different in the 1940s, when J. Edgar Hoover amassed personal information, including over 100 million fingerprints. Wikileaks has turned the table on government data. Ironically, it is much easier to steal government records today than to access J. Edgar Hoover’s analog records.
In the video below, Rick Smolan, who co-authored the book The Human Face of Big Data (available for download as a tab let app here), compares two photographs – one of a vast warehouse that housed the analog files of Hoover’s FBI, and one of the Wikileaks data center, located one hundred feet underground. At the time that the first photo was taken, Hoover was considered a hero, someone who was “saving the free world.” In recent years, however, we have discovered that Hoover was using “a lot of this information for his own personal purposes,” Smolan points out.
Contemporary society is very critical of Julian Assange. He is often viewed as irresponsible for divulging data without regard to security concerns. Many view him as a data terrorist, an enemy of the state. And yet, Smolan wonders if in another 50 years we may come to consider Assange as a hero and Hoover an enemy of the state.
Watch the video here:
In the slideshow below, you will get a taste of how data is being used as “the most powerful tool set the human race has ever had to address the widespread challenges facing our species and our planet,” as Smolan puts it.
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