Data Powers

March 2020 Issue

Knowledge is power, but data is something more than that. Data are the quanta of knowledge, the basic components of science, the foundations of theories and the biometrics that allow us new means of self-knowledge and medical intervention. If the universe is information, if the human brain represents the universe as information (as two theories run), then data form the building blocks of all we know, and all that may exist within and without ourselves. Identity, on the genetic level, is data, at least as far as the nature side of the nature/nurture equation runs. But data, now, is also a commodity. Perhaps the principle commodity driving the techno-economic present. And like all economic systems, like all power, it lends itself to abuse. The age of information has degraded into the age of data, and how we navigate it now has vast implications for the future, its risks and possibilities.

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