Data Mining and Society
Data Mining is the process of collecting data and then processing them to find useful patterns with the help of statistics and machine learning processes. By finding the relationship between the database, the peculiarities can be easily identified. Aggregation of useful datasets from a heap of data in the database help in the growth of many industries we depend in our daily life and enhance customer service. We can’t deny the fact that we live in a world of data. From the local grocery store to detecting network frauds, data mining plays a significant role. Beyond the benefits, data mining has negative impacts on society like privacy breaches and security problems. This article shows both the positive and negative effects of data mining on society.
Positive effects of data mining on society
Data mining has influenced our lives whether we feel it or not. Its applications are widely used in many fields to reduce strain and time. It has also supplemented the life of humans. Let’s see some of the examples.
- Customer relationship management: By using the techniques of data mining the company provides customized and preferred services for customers which provides a pleasant experience while using the services. By aggregating and grouping the data, the company can create advertisements only when needed and it can reach the right people who require the service. By targeting the customer, unwanted promotional activities can be avoided which saves a lot of money for the company. The customer also doesn’t get annoyed when heaps of junk mails and messages are not sent. Data mining can also help in saving time and provide satisfaction to the customers.
- Personalized search engines: In the world of data and networks, our lives become intertwined with web browsers. They had obtained an inevitable place in our lifestyle, knowledge and so on. With the help of data mining algorithms, the suggestions and the order of websites are tailored according to the gathered information by summarizing it. Ranking the page according to the content, the no of visits also help the web browser to provide necessary results for the query given by the user. By giving a personalized environment, spam and misleading advertisements can be avoided. By data mining, frequent spam accounts can be identified and they are automatically moved into the spam folder. For e.g. Gmail has a spam folder where unwanted and frequent junk messages are placed instead of heaping the inbox. Web-wide tracking is a process in which the system keeps track of every website a user visits. By incorporating the DoubleClick mechanism in these websites, they can note the websites that have been visited. And personalized lifestyle, educational ads are made visible in that sites relevant to that user.
- Mining in the health sector: Data mining helps in maintaining the health and welfare of a human. The layers of data mining embedded in pharmaceutical industries help to analyze data, to establish relationships while creating and improving drugs. It also helps in analyzing the effects of drugs on patients, the side effects and outcomes. They also help in tracking the number of chronically diseased patients, ICU patients which help in reducing the overflow of admissions in hospitals. Some medicines can also cause side effects or other benefits regardless of what disease it treats. In such cases, data mining can largely influence the growth of the health sector.
- E-shopping: E- retail platforms are one of the fastest-growing major industries in the world. From books, movies, groceries, lifestyles everything is listed on online e-retail platforms. This cannot run successfully without the help of data mining and predictive analysis. By these techniques, cross-selling and holding onto regular customers have become possible. Data mining helps in announcing offers and discounts to keep the customers intact and to increase sales. By using the algorithms of data science, the e-commerce website can largely influence the customers using targeted ad campaigns which will surge the number of users as well as it provide satisfactory results to customers.
- Crime prevention: Data mining plays a huge role in the prevention of crimes and reducing fraud rates. In telecommunication industries, it helps in identifying subscription theft and super-imposed frauds. It also helps in the identification of fraudulent calls. By doing this, user security can be ensured and prevent the company from facing a huge loss. It also plays an important role in police departments for identifying key patterns in crime and predicting them. It also helps in identifying the unsolved crimes committed by the same criminal by establishing a relationship between previous and present datasets in the crime database. By extracting and aggregating data, the police department can identify future crimes and prevent them. It also helps in identifying the cause of crime and the criminal behind that. This application largely supports the safety of people.
Negative effects of data mining on society
- The exploitation of data and discrimination: By agreeing on the terms and conditions provided by a company, the company gets access to collect data of the customers. From age groups to economical status, the company profiles the customers. By customer profiling, they get to know the datasets of rich, poor, elder, or younger. Some unethical or devious companies offer low credits or inferior deals to the customer in an area where fewer sales rate is noted. For. eg. An unethical company decreasing the credit scores in the loyalty card of people connected to a branch whose transactions are less. Sometimes while profiling customers, wrongly accusing a customer happens. Though he is faultless, his needs and comfort are denied. Even though the company declares the customer faultless after investigations, still the wrongly accused customer struggles mentally and this incident will negatively impact his life. Certain companies don’t take the responsibility of securing the data of customers which makes the data vulnerable and causes privacy breaches.
- Health-related ethical problem: Using data mining techniques, the companies can extract data about the health problems of the employees. They can also relate the summarized dataset with the datasets from the past history of previous employees. By discovering the pattern of diseases and frequencies, the company chooses the specific insurance plans accordingly. But, there is a chance that the company uses this data while hiring new employees. Hence, they avoid hiring people with a higher frequency of sickness. Insurance companies collect this data so they can avoid policies with companies with a high risk of health issues.
- Privacy breach: Every single piece of data we enter into the database of the internet is indirectly under the control of data miners. When used for unethical purposes, the privacy of an individual is invaded. Certain companies use this data to filter the latent people but with the potential to become customers of that company. In this way, the company sends targeted advertisements and increase customer traffic. For e.g. In telecommunication industries, the call details of the customer are created to enhance business growth and to maintain low customer churn. But, the company uses the data selfishly for its growth and it leads to the exploitation of privacy. Thus every single piece of data given to the network stands for greater risk under the influence of data mining.
- Manipulation of data and unethical problems: There are circumstances when normal data provided by a customer or user becomes manipulative data. That is when a customer makes a promotion on social media, which means he has a good financial status in his growing business. Using such information, miners can obtain unethical data to gain profits or access. Spreading of false information through social media and erroneous opinions can mislead people because when data miners collect this information, they become facts and which leads to a scam. Also, by using predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms, the outcome of an event is predicted by the government which may fail sometimes and that will create a disastrous effect on the public. When the prediction is based on unprompted unsafe sources, those predictions lead to severe losses and the company may fail.
- Invasive marketing: The junk advertisements that heap your mobile while using social media or other social platforms are the result of data mining. Targeted ads benefit both seller and customer and save time but when it gets intense and unethical, wrong products are forced through advertisements that may negatively influence the life of the user. From the browser histories to previously purchased items, the data is extracted and used to influence the user to buy other products sometimes which may be harmful. This aggressive technique will cause undesirable effects on the user. Every discovery or field has its own merits and demerits. A part of that application may help the human and a part may degrade the values and ethics of society. As a part of the society we live in, it is our duty to use the applications of technology following the rules and maintaining ethics. Industries, companies and marketing agents should respect the privacy of individual humans and should provide the space they need. When every single person out there takes responsibility for the proper handling of data, data mining would be a gift of technology that could build and ease our life in so many ways.