“Big tech”, journalism and the future of knowledge

Daniel Hinge

Big data is often (rightly) seen as a way to gain a new understanding of the world around us. It can help us to arrive at solutions to problems faster and more accurately, whether that is an idle interest in the height of the Eiffel Tower or a more urgent need to gather the requisite knowledge to tackle a global pandemic.

Yet there may be forces at play in the big-data-driven rise of tech firms that could reverse this advance of human knowledge, or at the very least reshape it.

Tech giants, chief among them Google, have played a central role in driving the adoption of big data. These firms gather and publish data, they push forward research into big data analysis and related technologies and they organise data. In the process, they gain vast quantities of data, and huge power: power to influence politics; power to change the way societies function; power to change the way we think and behave.

As we shall see, although “big tech” has offered humanity some valuable forward momentum, it has also shifted the progression of human knowledge on to a new set of tracks. It is affecting the democratisation of knowledge, the speed at which humans expect to be able to acquire

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