Why big data has nothing on God’s omnipotence

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we can do with data lately, and also its limits. A recent article at The Verge describes how the extensive amount of surveillance information about the Boston Marathon did not help as much as one would think in preventing the tragic attack that occurred there. Despite several CCTV cameras, hundreds of spectators taking photos of the finish line and law enforcement nearby, identifying the suspects took several days. Meanwhile, old-fashioned eyewitness testimony from citizens, like victim Jeff Bauman, was crucial. As the Verge article details, the sheer preponderance of data might have hindered the investigation as much as it helped, creating a greater haystack in which to find the relevant needles. In addition, the large amount of publicly available data led redditors and journalists at publications like the New York Post to suspect and draw attention to innocent civilians.

Certainly, in the case of unexpected terrorism, problems with the gap between the data we can access and our ability to filter it are understandable. But even in marketing, a field that has found numerous applications for the massive amounts of data available to them, guesswork is still a factor. Atlantic writer Alexis Madrigal was stunned when he and his wife received a baby catalog before they told anybody they were expecting. Madrigal set out to find out how big data nailed them so well and found out it was a lucky guess, based on gifts they purchased for nieces and nephews.

These mysterious data successes (or accidental successes) are easy to see as a kind of Big Brother future, where technology can track your every move and report back to … someone. But we can also see the cracks in the system when we notice things like off-the-wall advertisements on Facebook, despite the years of personal data the company has. (Recently an advertisement told me I could finish my bachelors online, even though my Facebook profile notes that I’ve been done for eight years.) Figuring out what data about whom is relevant – and to what ends - is a pretty difficult task, made harder by the fact that humans tend to behave unpredictably. A friend who works in social research likes to make a distinction between data, information, knowledge and wisdom – by degree of difficulty to attain.

These stories remind me that even though companies and governments are doing amazing/terrifying things with data, it’s at best imperfect. The algorithms and programs they use to filter and respond to data are at least as fallible as the human beings who designed them. This came to mind when I was recently re-reading the word of God to Samuel when he was anointing a king of Israel: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Over and over in the Bible, God knows just the right piece of information and reveals it at just the right time. God chooses the right - if unlikely - people to do His will in the world. That’s perfect wisdom.

Don’t get me wrong: Christians (and others) are right to pay attention to the ways that governments and corporations gather data and use that information. But we can also see its complexity and failures as evidence of the amazing omnipotence of our God - who doesn’t make errors and who knows right where to find us, even inside a great fish or the depths of hell.

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This was great! I think we also pull from the wrong data sources all the time too. Like trusting the advice of pinterest or online mags over the seasoned people around us!

Personally I think data does a pretty spectacular job after Boston. Sorting through a crowd like the Boston marathon and focusing in on the right people (assuming of course they're guilty) used to take weeks if not months. And while in Mrs. Madrigal's case that magazine guessed correctly, I have heard of other cases where (e.g.) a father found out his teen daughter was pregnant when Target started sending her coupons for diapers, based on her other purchases that weren't obviously baby-related. The difficulty is not in the data or even the interpretation but in our expectation that it will be perfect.

I do think, though, that there's a difference between the noise of data and true knowledge. It feels like lies and half-truths can get just as much mileage on social networking sites as well thought-out pieces. Anything that can be boiled down to text over a picture, particularly if it's rage-inducing, seems to get the attention. I find that deeply frustrating because it's the frequency of claims and their outrage factor, not their goodness or truth,

Hello and morning to all

I found this to be very inspring story In my readiness, my eye came across some information that I realize that I needed to hear and read. I feel that technology is or never will detect God when he makes his present or appearences, why because you have to think about who gave man the wisdom and knowledge, and he give mankind diamion over all thing creepy crawlers and animals he gave us athourity upon the earth to make all sought of things in this world. Because none of us will no the day or our that he cometh.

I always said they keep going up on that moon trying to fine a way to live there and trying to fine God . AS much knowledge that god has given unto mankind have they ever stop to thnk that they will not find God up there because God is in the thrid heaven and no man shall enter there in until god reign, but wait one minute I do not want no one to jump to any conclusions . Because the question was why does big data has to do with god.

Many do not read there bible, but it is so true God said your way is not his way. What we look at he do not look at thing the same way we do it is true he looks upon the heart of his children. He said surly I come quickly like a theif in the night no man no the day or our in which he may appear. Just a little reminder do what God want us to do and stop doing what we want to do, as the way that is right seems wrong and the wrong seem to be right they are his words they are true.

While many are sitting there waiting on the lord even the unjust no that we are in the end times yet technology can not detech his coming and his passing by this picture was taken by a child that he thought he was just taking a picture of the lighting in P. A. abot 1 year ago. Have a bless day all and know that he is real and loves us all.


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