Obama's Precision Medicine Plan Sounds Great—Unless It's an IT Nightmare

After teasing a "Precision Medicine Initiative" in his State of the Union address, President Obama today released the details of his $215 million plan: A massive database containing the genetic profiles and health records of at least a million volunteers. Genetics sequencing! Big data! These all sound like good… » 1/30/15 3:25pm 1/30/15 3:25pm

How Your Connected Devices Could Get You Fired or Ruin Your Credit

There's probably something you do right now you wouldn't really want everyone to know about. Maybe you're letting a Fitbit gather dust while you eat Doritos and watch The Good Wife (understandable). Maybe you're in the habit of driving around at 3 AM when you can't sleep. Whatever you do, if you're doing it while… » 1/27/15 12:40pm 1/27/15 12:40pm

How We Come to Know Ourselves In the Age of the Quantified Self

My grandmother recently had a pacemaker implanted. Major surgery and its aftermath are frightening at any age, but for a 93-year-old and her family it is a particularly scary tightrope to walk. Had her recovery been filmed for a montage in a family drama, there would have been reassuring doctors and smiling nurses… » 1/26/15 1:00pm 1/26/15 1:00pm

How to Use Satellite Imagery to Predict the Market

You can do some crazy shit with satellite imagery. What kinds of crazy shit? Well, for one, a startup's spying on the shadows of half-built skyscrapers in China and then selling the data to investors who want to predict what the real estate market. That's crazy! » 11/20/14 4:47pm 11/20/14 4:47pm

Should Google Be Allowed to Mine Your Health Care Data?

On the heels of the I/O keynote on Thursday, Google cofounder Larry Page spilled his guts to Farhad Manjoo from The New York Times. "Right now we don't data-mine health care data," Page said. "If we did we'd probably save 100,000 lives next year." But is that actually a good idea? » 6/26/14 6:00pm 6/26/14 6:00pm

Why a Fitness-Tracking App Is Selling Its Data to City Planners

Strava, a popular fitness-tracking app for runners and cyclists, just announced a new initiative. Because the app collects so much location information about people on the move, the company is now selling its data to local governments, where city planners can put it to use. Good idea! » 5/07/14 2:20pm 5/07/14 2:20pm

Denmark Built a Complete Copy of Itself in Minecraft

Denmark is a beautiful country. You really should check it out. And now, thanks to the Danish government, you can just that without leaving the comfort of you own home. Just open up Minecraft, and go exploring. It's all there. » 4/25/14 3:07pm 4/25/14 3:07pm

New York City Is Using Data Mining to Fight Fires

Helmets? Check. Breathing tanks? Check. Hoses? Ditto. Algorithms? Yep: the New York City Fire Department is using data mining to predict which of the city's buildings are at highest risk of catching fire. Now that's metadata we can get behind. » 1/25/14 5:09pm 1/25/14 5:09pm

Big Data Brokers: They Know Everything About You and Sell it to the…

Data companies are scooping up enormous amounts of information about almost every American. They sell information about whether you're pregnant or divorced or trying to lose weight, about how rich you are and what kinds of cars you have. » 3/18/13 10:11am 3/18/13 10:11am

What Is Big Data?

The human race produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day—far too much to crunch using conventional desktop applications. Mining this mountain of data for nuggets usable information is one of the biggest challenges facing modern society. But a new generation of analytic tools are helping us control the… » 12/03/12 4:40pm 12/03/12 4:40pm

How the Obama Campaign Uses Your Personal Information to Get Your Money…

In 2008, the Obama campaign enlisted the help of Facebook and Google bigwigs to help raise massive sums from a lot of small donors. Back then, the key was just a few pieces of data—today, that data mining effort has been expanded to a huge and very creepy degree. » 10/02/12 2:40pm 10/02/12 2:40pm

The Problem With Big Data Is That Nobody Understands It

The concept of Big Data—the practice of acquiring, analyzing and interpreting ridiculously huge data sets—is something much of the technology and business world is extremely excited about. But excited is about as far as it goes because, currently, there just aren't enough practitioners to make it work. » 4/30/12 3:55am 4/30/12 3:55am

Big Data, Big Problems: The Trouble With Storage Overload

We collect an astonishing amount of digital information. But as the Economist recently pointed out in a special reports, we've long since surpassed our ability to store and process it all. Big data is here, and it's causing big problems. » 3/17/10 4:40pm 3/17/10 4:40pm