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July 2013, Volume 2, Number 7

Big data privacy concerns spur research, innovation

Big data privacy concerns are becoming common. Many organizations already have the data they need -- but they’re afraid to use it. Big data isn’t necessarily new data. Rather, it’s data that has been accumulating, often gathering dust, over the course of many years. Now, new tools and processes are turning that data into live, actionable and sometimes very revealing information. A group of MIT professors, all panelists at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in May, offered some enlightening -- and chilling -- potential uses for gathered and analyzed data. For researchers, big data tools offer access to a treasure trove of behavioral information, statistics and other hard numbers that are waiting to be discovered. For instance, at the moment, “new treatments for advance cancers are based on the intuition of doctors,” said Dimitris Bertsimas, professor of operations research. “Drug combinations are used over and over again. But can there be new combinations?” That information was easy to find. An existing database of treatments and drugs ...

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