Chatham House Primer: Privacy and Big Data

Dr Michal Kosinski explains some of the implications of the big data society for businesses, governments and individuals.

Members event Recording
29 May 2018 — 6:00PM TO 7:00PM
Chatham House, London

A rapidly growing proportion of human activities – professional, social and personal - are now mediated by digital devices and services. The users of these devices are producing an inconceivable quantity of digital footprints that can be used to reveal intimate traits and emotions and predict future behaviour.

Often these services are free at the point of use but in recent months, particularly in light of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story, consumers have become increasingly aware of the value of their data and the price they might be paying in terms of their privacy.

The talk covers:

  • What is big data and why is it so big?
  • What kind of data is being recorded?
  • The role of Artificial Intelligence in processing this data
  • Uses of this data: revealing traits, predicting behaviour and influencing decisions
  • Recent misuses and abuses: the US election and the Cambridge Analytica stories
  • Should consumers begin to think of their data as a possession with value?
  • The future of privacy: a privilege reserved for the few?

About Chatham House Primers
The Chatham House Primer Series is a unique programme of talks designed to bridge the gap between introductory level subject knowledge and a more advanced understanding geared towards practical application, higher-level discussion and policy debate.

With each talk hosted by a leading expert, the Primer series aims to provide the audience with a solid grounding in topics of academic curiosity, key international affairs concepts and the issues behind the news.


Dr Michal Kosinski, Assistant Professor, Computational Psychologist and Big Data, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

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A member takes the opportunity to ask the panel a question at our event on the digital revolution.
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