Author Archives: Alina Zhao

The Pros and Cons of Big Data – Alina

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Intro

This past summer, I flew back and forth between China and the US a lot, which meant I had to book plane tickets a number of times. During this process, I used a Chinese travel website called Ctrip, which my family has always liked and trusted. It is also the largest online travel agency in China. However, this time my experience was not so pleasant. The price for the tickets that I was looking at kept going up every time I returned from looking up similar tickets on other websites, which could be interpreted as normal since that price might go up as the date approached. The part that took me by surprise though was when I tried to log in using a different account and look at the same tickets on the same date, I found that the prices differed. I don’t recall the exact price gap but I just remember that it was enough for me to be upset and intrigued by it at the same time. After a brief search online, I found that there were already news reports accusing this company of manipulating their customers through the use of “big data.” This discovery deeply interested me. I could not help but started to wonder about questions like “How exactly are they using the data they collect to achieve their goal? How are other Internet companies like Netflix and Google using their data? What are the ethical implications of this? What impact does this have on our society as a whole?” Continue reading