Yuval Noah Harari : Big Data and Knowledge Management

Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari : Big Data and Knowledge Management

Yuval Noah Harari. Have you watched the Yuval Noah Harari Tedtalk session “Why fascism is so tempting? — and how your data could power it “. What do you think about his opinion? I assume this is an interesting topic, notably concerning the current conditions when the world turns into digital and online.

*If you have not watched it, just click the video below :

The Big Data and Facism

Historian Yuval Noah Harari implied in his Tedtalk session with the topic “Why fascism is so tempting — and how your data could power it “  that fascism nowadays does not appear as a monster anymore. Fascism in the 21st century becomes more efficient than democracy due to controlling the data. Democracies could process the data and make the decision faster than fascism because is not a centralized system. Now Artificial Intelligence and Technology might make it more efficient by centralizing al data and decisions. Harari argues that the combination of information technology with biotechnology may result in the algorithms individuals report. This information could exploit people’s emotions and weaknesses. It could prevent if data engineers ensured that distributed data processing remains as efficient as centralized systems and we need to safeguard to make sure the data is not controlling by a powerful elite.

In my opinion, Harari’s argument is so related to the current condition. The business entities use big data to obtain and expand their market. Customer preference information captured easily through their internet history activity. Media social is one of the big sources to mine the data so the company could use that big data to consider their strategy business. The big data resulting information about what customer current needs even their problem or weakness. For example, if we do internet browsing or whatsoever, there is advertising or recommendation content related to our current needs. Because the internet captures our activity even in our mobile activity.

It’s not just in the business segment but for government interest too, the big data support Government Development Plan such as data-driven economic development like Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) does in by using near real- time data to monitor economic development.7  So big data could be the tools that make a positive impact on society due to faster information and predict the future that makes the decision more efficient. As far as I am concerned, the big data phenomenon makes a negative impact on our society recently, especially in media social. People be more sensitive related to the issue, resulting in conflict between one to another even they are relatives. Our emotion control by the information that appears in media social without any deep analysis or uses any of our knowledge related to that issue.

Big Data can Harm our Society

Big data collects various data from the internet usage of each individual that may not be known or does not agree that the data has been provided. Even from all the data collected and created will produce information from the character of each individual that they have unaware of. So we have to concern about limiting privacy space and public matters or it could be no restrictions at all. Information arising from big data technology can manipulate humans because this information has been modified by adjusting to the weaknesses and needs of humans themselves can change mindsets.

For example, by using social media the more content liked by people, we tend to trust that content without validating that information through our knowledge. Decisions and human behavior will be controlled through the people’s emotions that arising from the big data algorithm no longer based on the knowledge or experience needed. I am convinced that it will result in any conflict in society because people can argue with each other carried by that bias information. 1

Every year Big data technology collects a lot of data that can add up quickly and put it together to create artificial intelligence. This phenomenon will become a threat if there are just certain interests that have the power to control it. When information becomes biased and decision making based on controlled emotions over information which is not necessarily true, there will be a big problem. As we know there are cases in America where several parties sell big data for the benefit of one of the political party’s interests.2

This is a problem because a democratic system that is supposed to be carried out based on the knowledge of each person personally, becomes biased because of the decisions taken based on emotional manipulation. There are the brokers who sell the data which disrupted aspects of life such as ethics in business, personal life, and society because of the misuse of ethical data technology.1

Read : The inflation and Rupiah

What we should do?

Technological development is not a setback in human life. Artificial intelligence generated from the big data algorithm can help human life more easily. Jack Ma said at World Artificial Intelegence  Conference in Shanghai 2019, “I think AI can help the environment sustainability. And when human beings know themselves better, human beings will be smarter and will be wiser.”3 But what can limitation make this technology remain a positive thing, not something that can threaten human life? I believe that there is should be something that could control the development of technology. This is to make sure our life still is driven by human knowledge rather than technology.

Government Regulation as a Control (Regulator)

In the Big data era and how the information could form easily, it is clear that require government regulations to avoid data misuse. Even accidental private data retrieval either though education support by knowledge management or making specific regulation focused on how big data should be controlled. In America, President Obama paid specialattention to big data notably about data privacy. So The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) published a report ” Big Data and Privacy: A Technological Perspective”.4

The result is PCAST will study the intersection of big data and individual privacy in the technological aspect. In Indonesia, there is no specific regulation that concern about data privacy correlated to Big Data. It is should be our focused considering Indonesia’s internet economy growth is the highest in South East Asia which means a lot of Big Data collected easily.5

Government transparency in the regulation and implementation of regulations is the main point because it prevents abuse of power. So what Harari and most people are worried that democracy will be replaced by modern fascism will never happen and we as citizens can participate in monitoring it.

Knowledge Management as Balancing between Technology and Human Being

Big data combined algorithm data could be the right tool for a specific problem. But we can not solve the problem with statistical analysis alone. We should start to analyze the problem based on underlying our understanding through knowledge management. Artificial Intelligence focuses on an accurate prediction to address specific business problems. However, Knowledge Management is helping us to discover solutions through search and retrieval of the codified knowledge base.6

I think by knowledge management, artificial intelligence is not a threat to human going concern. Humans should be smarter than the technology itself, and the important thing is human wisdom. Like Harari said in his speech “I know that you should never underestimate human stupidity. It is one of the most powerful forces that shape history”. People should wise in technology development, with knowledge people will always use their understanding and experience so they still can control the purpose of technology in positive ways.

The Ethics

Big data can combine with knowledge management for business purposes. Nowadays many companies use big data to enhance their target market and considering their strategy business. Companies can use big data especially customer privation data to manipulate information related to their marketing strategy. But is it a good choice? Companies still protect their customer so the trust in their brand still maintained. It’s important for companies and customer relations. I think ethics is a key role that big data could not misuse in every sector.

The Conclusion

Big data and artificial intelligence are the great Innovation in technology that help humans to make decisions faster. But we as human beings have knowledge and wisdom to build the future. I have a favorite quote from Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Space X, “The rate of change of technology is incredibly fast. It is outpacing our ability to understand it. Is that good or bad? I don’t know.”3 It implied that the impact of technology to our life depends on the human being itself. Technology, especially Artificial Intelligence could never replace the human in life. We should create it and control it. Maybe technology can be smarter than humans but wisdom and knowledge are still a human advantage.

This article is based on my opinion. I do some research on several references. I’d be very interested to hear your views on this topic. Just write down on the comment or simply email me.

The reference :

  1. Data Ethics: Risk Management for the Algorithmic Age, Dennis Hirsch,
  2. Data-driven elections and the key questions about voter surveillance, David Lyon and Colling Bennet
  3. Elon Musk: Humanity Is a Kind of ‘Biological Boot Loader’ for AI, Ricki Harris
  4. Report to the President Big Data and Privacy : A Technological Prespective, PCAST, May 2014
  5. SEA Internet Economy Report 2019 by Google, TEMASEK, and Bain & Company
  6. Knowledge Management and Big Data Making Smart Enterprise a Reality, Delloite, March 2018
  7. Government of Indonesia Integrates Big Data into Economic Management, Pulse Lab Jakarta and FHI 360
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