Socio-economic data mining has a great potential in terms of gaining a better understanding of problems that our economy and society are facing, such as financial instability, shortages of resources, or conflicts. Without large-scale data mining, progress in these areas seems hard or impossible. Therefore, a suitable, distributed data mining infrastructure and research centers should be built in Europe. It also appears appropriate to build a network of Crisis Observatories. They can be imagined as laboratories devoted to the gathering and processing of enormous volumes of data on both natural systems such as the Earth and its ecosystem, as well as on human techno-socio-economic systems, so as to gain early warnings of impending events. Reality mining provides the chance to adapt more quickly and more accurately to changing situations. Further opportunities arise by individually customized services, which however should be provided in a privacy-respecting way. This requires the development of novel ICT (such as a self- organizing Web), but most likely new legal regulations and suitable institutions as well. As long as such regulations are lacking on a world-wide scale, it is in the public interest that scientists explore what can be done with the huge data available. Big data do have the potential to change or even threaten democratic societies. The same applies to sudden and large-scale failures of ICT systems. Therefore, dealing with data must be done with a large degree of responsibility and care. Self-interests of individuals, companies or institutions have limits, where the public interest is affected, and public interest is not a sufficient justification to violate human rights of individuals. Privacy is a high good, as confidentiality is, and damaging it would have serious side effects for society.

Via Ashish Umre