Understanding the risks of Big Data: Chrys Margaritidis examines ethical challenges in GIS

June 9, 2023

The ever-present topic of Big Data was once again in the spotlight with the talk by Chrys Margaritidis on the ethical implications of Big Data, particularly addressing the field of geographic information systems (GIS). This public lecture, organized by the OSUN GeoHub project, was held at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) on June 7 and gathered an audience both in-person and online.

The talk recognized the predominant role of Big Data and metadata in our daily lives. One day we are witnessing the positive impact of Big Data analytics on consumer experience and the management of global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The next day, we hear about the misuse of personal information by technology giants like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica or the reports about the effect of fake news on the electoral process.

Focusing more on the potential "dark" side of Big Data, the lecture discussed such examples as predictive policing, real-time surveillance, and pre-emptive punishment, showing how otherwise beneficial uses of Big Data can pose significant risks to our society if we don’t develop a comprehensive understanding of their importance and an ethical framework to handle their potential consequences. The last part of the presentation explored the challenges in the GIS field, particularly looking at the ways the geospatial data is gathered, stored, analyzed, and used.

The lecture sparked a lively discussion among both online and in-person participants about the ethical aspects of Big Data and GIS, highlighting the relevance and importance of the issue and encouraging further exploration of this crucial topic.

GeoHub is an open platform project aimed at developing the capacity of the Open Society University Network (OSUN) members to use the latest geospatial methods and technologies in research and teaching disciplines. The project is conducted in partnership between CEU, AUCA, and Bard College.