IBM's Steve Adler (ibmdatamag.com) writes a fascinating blog about data. He sees the future clearly – what's great about the new services technology is bringing us, and what we need to do to make sure everything goes well in the brave new world. He's a good phrase maker too - “Data is Reality” is the headline for one post and another is called “The Internet of Trees”.
Steve points out that as we become more dependent on data, we potentially make ourselves vulnerable. He is concerned about the possibility of malicious forging of data being used to influence behavior, and believes open data standards are the way to ensure data is not misused.
He develops his thinking from a simple experiment. While driving on the Long Island Expressway, his navigation system told him to get off at the next exit to avoid congestion up the road. There was a line of cars at the next exit, so he stayed on. Same at the next exit. He figured that all the cars were reacting to the same data about the congestion – causing a different pattern of congestion at the exits. He acted against the advice of his navigation system, stayed on the Expressway – and encountered a clear road...
“Now imagine how a person’s behavior might be affected if someone else is able to alter traffic information, change object tags, and route that person to a destination he or she had no intention of visiting. Imagine how dependent people might become on augmented reality information and what they might be influenced to believe and do if that information were changed to provide disinformation […] Without the widespread use of open data standards that provide proof of data we can trust, our reality can be augmented with lies that lead to dangerous outcomes, reduced freedom, and pervasive paranoia. We must safeguard the future and the past with data we can trust and standards that demonstrate that trust beyond the shadow of a doubt.”