Donald J. Patterson

Should We Hide From Big Data?

Conversation about Big Data and Surveillance at the University Club of Santa Barbara

I’m honored to be invited to speak at the University Club of Santa Barbara on April 13th, 2017 at 5:30pm to give a talk about “Big Data”.  The talk is sponsored by Westmont College and is part of their “Westmont Downtown: Conversations about Things That Matter Program“.   Previous speakers this year have spoken about President Trump’s election, Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death and immigration, so it’s a little daunting to follow in the footsteps of these colleagues.

The talk itself is public and tickets aren’t required but the limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. (For more information, call 805-565-6051)

The University Club of Santa Barbara


Big Data isn’t Benign

An enormous amount of data gets collected, so big data isn’t just a benign repository of information.  It becomes the basis for making decisions and monitoring and assessing individuals and groups. People with agendas choose which data is worth saving, which colors the pictures they subsequently form about our world. The process is co-evolutionary.  People examine the world and build the infrastructure to collect data, which then the world looks different than it did before.


I’ll walk through several examples of ways of thinking about surveillance and control and  present ways in which people on the cutting edge of technology have responded to protest and protect their privacy and yet practically still participate in the modern world.

I’ll discuss when, if ever, it’s OK to lie to the databases that are trying to form a digital portrait of you.

I’d like the audience to leave with new ways to think about data collection, and new ideas about what the threats and opportunities are, and to learn about how computer scientists think about big data and why.

Slides from the presentation

Surveillance Camera collection Big Data


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.