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Big Data and the end of Free Will

Rev. Clay Nelson


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Rev. clay Nelson © 9 July 2017

In the mid-’90s I had oversight of fifty congregations spread over the bottom quarter of California. Amongst other duties I was charged with helping them grow and better meet their missions in their particular contexts. To do that I engaged a company that would help provide up-to-date information about the communities they served. To begin, I had to drive to each church and put three antennae on the roof of my car and wait for a black box to tell me it had found three satellites above the horizon. Then I pressed a button that would record the position of that church on the globe. This was GPS in 1995. Today, I would just go to Google maps which could give me the exact latitude and longitude of each. Then I sent the box back to the company who downloaded the information. In return, they sent me dozens of maps for each church showing the demographics of the neighbourhoods that surrounded them. I remember being fascinated that so much data could be provided, but that was nothing compared with what is available today. Now those maps would tell me the demographics of each residence on the street not just the neighbourhood. This is the world of Big Data we now live in. Like it or not it is here. Silicon Valley calls it Dataism. Continue reading Big Data and the end of Free Will