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Big Data Needs Science Diplomacy
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Algorithms are increasingly determining how we think and this is relevant not just for policy makers, but for everyone else in general as well. Amidst all these rapid changes, it seems our focus on ethics is becoming less and less. Advertising and consumer analytics is so advanced in getting into our unconscious psyche that it feels that it has become psychological warfare. The information and innovation overload has made us more passive and docile and less independent in our thinking. In a nutshell, big data needs bigger ethics, Science diplomacy and Global diplomacy to overcome its nightmarish potential consequences in international relations and the wider society and economy. Big data provides big information which may be taken as good or bad for people. If one sentence has several meanings with its respective expression then information can also have several meanings depending upon mentality of receiver (Satherley, 2013). Science diplomacy helps to manage, support and store the big data ignoring the national boundaries. The purpose of this article is to highlight the role of science diplomacy in delivering the values which makes handling the big data feasible considering the challenges of maintaining and managing it. The key infrastructures will also be discussed which are required by organizations to handle big data. Opinions and propagandas which are caused by big data will also be highlighted.

Challenges of Big Data

If the data is big, it creates many issues and problems to manage. It is assumed to be global and does not allow itself to restrict within national boundaries. Science diplomacy is required in order to manage big data on international scale. It also counters threats arises by big data in crisis between the countries and in international relations. Considering many challenges face by enterprises in managing it, the main challenges are among cyber hackings, ethical issues and people manipulation.

Cyber Hackings

Today, cyber hacking is become the most central worth considering issue for governments as well as many enterprises all round the world. Cyber hacking allows the cyber criminals to fetch the information by hacking the data of organizations. First challenge is to find the cyber indicator as it seems most difficult to find the indicator by which the attack on data is impended (Thirunarayan, & Sheth, 2013). It will not be wrong saying that it is similar as finding needle in haystack. Law enforcement agencies and governments are found defenseless facing this challenge due to lack of security handling terrorism related to cyber warfare.

Second challenge is to control and manage the network and data traffic as it increases its count and break its own past record within a small period of time. In this regard, there is a need for cyber security agencies to advance their technological assets at those stages where system finds the theft or cyber hacking proactively. The firewalls and signatures are needed to be technologically updated to find current hackers to track the location easily and without harming or breaching the system, it can be locked down. This may help in keeping the pace with latest threats and prevents it attacks prior to their happenings. Third, the challenge of cyber hacking is to obtain the new approaches that may analyze the big data with the help of macro analytics among billion of records and store it for many years as archive without losing a bit of it. Technologies such as “Hadoop”, “InfoSphere Streams” and “PureData System” from IBM help in recording and storing a vast record of big data (Ferguson, 2012).

Ethical Issues

Many challenges occur while managing the big data especially for software houses or system based organizations. The challenges that may strongly hypes an individual in managing big data regarding ethical issues are keeping its privacy and confidentiality (GUEST, et al., 2015). The big data also creates issues ethically as its transparency to save it from any copyright and its identity seems difficult to manage. Analytics must be ready all the time to face such challenges where they may find any mishaps and keep updating the ethical framework in conducting big data analysis. The role of governmental organizations is very important in updating their laws and acts regarding big data ethics and transforming ethics into laws.

The ability of analytics to click out the new knowledge and its patterns as compare to the past troves of data is another challenge in managing big data ethically. The quick and fast data transferring must be analyzed to manage it in comparison with ethical and legal guidelines (GUEST, et al., 2015). The challenge for IT industry is to derive the ethical and legal maps related to this issue as current era is the phase of century where many activities in cyber world are possible today which one could not even imagine of. The need of today’s digital world is to preserve the values which may avoid the risks of big data and it becomes necessary as well as compulsory to abandon these values for expediency and innovation.

People Manipulation

People manipulation is another big challenge to manage big data. In this, the data consists of private or personal information on social sites, sharing the cover letters or curriculum vitae to organizations through network traffic and etc. One of the challenges for people to save themselves from any damage is that they should be capable of managing their flow of private and personal information across massive and public analytics systems (Dai, et al., 2012).  Many social sites have the capability and sometimes are intentionally designed to hide the identity of user which becomes dangerous for people. Also, the fact of manipulation becomes easy as compare to those where correct information is verified through phone, text message or any other medium.

Today, the need of the situation lies in the culture where there are restrictions in rules for which type of personal data processing is allowed. In continuation, the decisions are also required to analyze regarding this type of data which may influence the lives of people. Although, in 2012, an experiment on manipulation of users data occurred in which the status of around 700,000 users on Facebook was changed without their knowledge. In this experiment, the researchers wrote “The experiment manipulated the extent to which people were exposed to emotional expressions in their news feed” (Miskelly, 2014). Hence, it is clear that making unnecessary accounts and logins to any system is another factor that leads to leak the personal information of an individual and people are manipulated to expose their emotions.

Science Diplomacy & Big Data

Science diplomacy is the method that follows the use of scientific association among various countries to build the partnerships internationally and to solve the general issues. For big data, it may be defined as the same but it is for various organizations ignoring national boundaries to solve the big data issues. It may help the organizations to use IT services fearlessly while managing, uploading and sharing their confidential information on network. It is essential for big data in the manner that it plays a vital role globally in bridging the developmental and political segregations while scientific challenges are strongly focused on large-scale. The bridging of these segregations definitely requires the removal of communication gaps and fine cooperation of one country to another ignoring any political mishaps to allow resolution of problems scientifically. One of the leading examples for this is announcement of Higgs particle in July 4th, 2012 when an organization, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) was formed (Quevedo, 2013). This organization was based on building the European Science foundation by bringing the former adversaries together post to World War II in discovering the Higgs particle. The particle was found to be the only component in particle physics in standard model to be discovered.

Among many values in handling challenges of big data, science diplomacy delivers the value to empower the diplomats which may lead an individual to receive many benefits regarding international activities. These benefits include; the evaluation of season programs with the help of international broadcasters, developing several ways to convenient the sporting events and the global summit coverage to end the sexual violence around the world. According to the US Advisory Commissions on Public Diplomacy, science diplomacy also delivers the values for both diplomats and scholars to incorporate the available insights from the scientific data (Cull, 2013). It is essential for the data analytics to use it in systematic understanding applications, program and planning designs which may affect the foreign audiences in manipulating and engaging more accurately considering the verified information. In continuation, it is not necessary that science diplomacy must be conducted only on the origin of big data but, the big data requires science diplomacy in many disciplines to be handled as it rights and its situation of availability.

According to the Chief Economists of Google, Hal Varian, “the ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades” (Fisher, 2015). From this quotation, in coming years, the values which may handle the big data, the science diplomacy suggests are the abilities to collect the data, the ability to understand the data, to extract and process the valuable information from it and then to visualize and communicate it in the form of interpretation. On the other hand, the evaluation of three Vs may define the values that handle the challenges of big data; volume, velocity, and variety. Veracity seems to be fourth “V” to use it for the purpose of science diplomacy to benefit the nations globally (Fisher, 2015).

Key Infrastructures

Generally, every organization is required to maintain or manage the big data. For this purpose, they must have strong key infrastructures to ensure the feasible data facilitation. Key infrastructures support organizations to achieve their competitive advantages. Basically, organizations require the latest available key infrastructure which could analyze the data within no time. Analytics of big data delivered three chief key infrastructures for every type of data; access, speed and availability (Kitchin, 2014). These key infrastructures are helpful in obtaining the intimacy of customers, support in optimizing a real time decisions and empower the employees which leads to empower organizations to compete in market.

First, feasible access to the data helps in secure sharing to any information required to facilitate customers and operational activities. For this, organizations must have tools for data tiering and compression, easy optimization to data storage, scalability and parallel processing systems. Second, the speed in big data helps to accelerate the insights at the stage of impact in real time hence; this must be able to build intelligence into transactional and eventual activities faster. For this infrastructure, the tools required are specialty workload engines, enhanced and advanced technologies, resources with lower latency and system ability to rapid in and outgoing. Third, availability of data ensures the delivery of consistent insights to the customers and process data as their needs. It helps in improving the collaboration which leads to solve many issues within no time. This infrastructure requires self-healing systems and single and multi-sites clustering results.

Opinions and Propagandas

In opinions to manage the big data, the organization must have broadest solutions portfolios and must have ability to embed the automatic analytics. Managing big data have a vast technological requirement therefore integrations in hardware and software will prove to be essential in order to optimize the speed and time. In this age of insights, the organizations may harness the analytics and big data to enhance their capabilities and acting fastest as before.

Big data also causes for many propagandas happened in the past as it change the way one can see the world. According to the White House Report (2014), “‘Big data’ and ‘evidence-based policy’ are the dominant ideas of our moment” (Kakaes, 2015). It represents the big data as strong set of techniques therefore it can cause the information which may lead one to misuse or misunderstand the information collected by it.


In conclusion, including many challenges of big data such as cyber hackings, ethical issues and people manipulation, the most persuasive challenge is keep it confidential. If the data is big, it definitely leads to create issues in phase of its managing and storing with its sure security. In addition, science diplomacy also helps in managing the big data due to its vital role globally in connecting the developmental and political segregations while focusing the scientific challenges. The big data does not look for national boundaries. However, access, speed and availability of big data are fundamental required key infrastructures for organizations.

Syed Danish Ali is a Senior Consultant at SIR consultants, a leading actuarial consultancy in the Middle East and South Asia. He is also a graduate of University of London in Sociology and Career ambassador of Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA UK). He has more than 75 publications across a range of international platforms and is a regular contributor to various research activities in IFoA, CAS, SOA and International Actuarial Association including the ASTIN journal. His non-actuarial publications include articles in Data Science, Banking, Quantitative Finance, International Relations & Foreign Policy, Astrophysics, Philosophy and Sociology.



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  • Dai, L., Gao, X., Guo, Y., Xiao, J. and Zhang, Z., 2012. Bioinformatics clouds for big data manipulation. Biology direct, 7(1), p.43.
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  • GUEST, M.A.R., Daar, J. and Mutcherson, K., 2015. Ethical Issues in Big Data Health Research: Currents in Contemporary Bioethics. JL Med. & Ethics, 43, pp.425-661.
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  • Miskelly, N., 2014, “Big data: is manipulation really the answer?”, Bobsguide Retrieved from http://www.bobsguide.com/guide/news/2014/Aug/14/big-data-is-manipulation-really-the-answer.html
  • Quevedo, F., 2013, “The Importance of International Research Institutions for Science Diplomacy”, AAAS Center for Science & Diplomacy, Retrieved from http://www.sciencediplomacy.org/perspective/2013/importance-international-research-institutions-for-science-diplomacy
  • Satherley, D., (2013), “Big data meshes propaganda with reality”, Retrieved from http://www.3news.co.nz/author/dan-satherley
  • Thirunarayan, K. & Sheth, A., 2013, Semantics-empowered approaches to big data processing for physical-cyber-social applications. InProc. AAAI 2013 Fall Symp. Semantics for Big Data.


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