By the Blouin News Technology staff

White House report examines pros and cons of big data

by in Personal Tech.

White House. (Source: Eric Salard/flickr)

White House. (Source: Eric Salard/flickr)

The White House issued a report last week titled Big Data: A Report on Algorithmic Systems, Opportunity and Civil Rights which examines the risks and benefits of big data across multiple sectors including education, criminal justice, and employment. As the report’s producers — Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil — point out, the goal of the report is not to offer solutions to problems that bias in big data can introduce in those sectors, but it is rather to identify them and get the ball rolling on conversation, research, and action among “technologists, academics, policy makers and citizens.”

While this is not the first report on big data from the White House, it is one that will close President Obama’s term in office functioning as a warning of sorts. The report notes that, while big data can “be used to detect bias and prevent discrimination” it can also “deliberately or inadvertently perpetuate, exacerbate, or mask discrimination.”…