An Open Question

Due to these challenges, it remains an open question how we might regulate the use of big data in ways that allow for its beneficial uses but prevent the harmful uses, at least in part because of challenges related to who gets to decide what counts as beneficial and harmful. Privacy protections would in theory allow users to decide when and what data of theirs to protect, but as we saw at the beginning of this chapter, privacy protections are in the midst of an erosion in the United States. Further, existing privacy protection only applies to materials located on one’s own property, so any data that flows across the internet is not protected in that way.

I hope you can see clearly that these challenges related to big data and privacy apply to all of our daily lives. They are pressing, important, and difficult. But understanding what these challenges are is of utmost importance. The emergence of generative AI into prominence in 2022 and 2023 has made such questions even more pressing. Ethical discussion guides included in this book can be used to help start those conversations.