Questions about Privacy, Decision-making, and Big Data

Inspired by the Big Data panel at this year’s Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference, a few quick questions.

We know that human cognition is full of bias and fallacy, and that humans aren’t Econs. Among other pieces, we know that humans confuse correlation for causation, and that machine learning and big data operate on the level of correlations only. We also know that machine learning can generate good hypotheses for what might be a controlling variable, and what might be a useful course of action.

The questions, then: What determine’s society’s attitude toward the tradeoffs between machine and human decision making, and is that attitude rational? What are the qualities we seek in these decisions?

And: Who’s said interesting things about these questions since danah boyd’s work in 2010, e.g., in “Privacy and Publicity in the Age of Big Data“?