Google predicted the outbreak of the flu before health officials, based on user searches for symptoms of the illness. Target sent coupons for maternity clothing and nursery furniture to a pregnant teen before her father even knew she was having a baby. As more and more data from a variety of sources becomes available, companies, governments and individuals are learning to use information in ways that were previously unimaginable.
In July, The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project and Elon University released a non-random survey of 1,021 digital stakeholders who weighed two scenarios for the future of Big Data. While 53% of respondents agree that Big Data will have a positive effect on social, political and economic intelligence in the year 2020, 39% believe it will have a harmful impact.
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