Big Data show up everywhere around us. Monsanto puts sensors in the soil and connects them to crops. The company wants to know how they can optimise their seeds with techniques like CRISPR-Cas9. For example to maximise the nutrient content of the plants grown from them. Big Data is your searchbehaviour on Internet that will make Google or Bing notice that you probably have cancer, well before you could even think about that.

It is the Apple Watch, FitBit and the combined route finder and body tracker from TomTom that keep track of an increasing amount of information on what you are doing, where you are doing that and with whom. In the future these gadgets can warn you, when your resistance is low, where the people around you came from and which resistant bacteria they brought with them from which airplane.

It is Sainbury’s and Lidl that already now can see and analyse your healthy or less favourable purchase patterns. They will be able to exploit those data much further. They can share your data with Vodafone, T-Mobile, Tripadvisor, Mastercard and Visa, to find out exactly where you are and what you are eating there. They can share these data with Google and Bing to determine – better than a doctor – your physical condition, especially when you also use a tracker. Your selfie-history on twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook will complete the story.

Who, like IBM’s superdata analyst and knowledge generator Watson, has access to the data of millions of people, can treat cancer better than doctors. Watson can already predict why a treatment works better for an individual than another. Even the most intelligent doctor can only guess at that, based on his or her gut feeling. There is more. If Watson is fed with data of millions of people over a history of many years, it will be able to successfully generate nutrition- and other lifestyle advice to minimalise your individual cancer risk Insane?? No and that is exactly the point. The first results are already here. It will not belong before there will be several million people in Watson’s ‘head’.

Collecting all our digital traces and those of the many plants and animals we eat, means a revolution in many areas. Read again the previous alineas. Imagine you receive a SMS, App or Messenger message: “You have been taking not enough selenium recently. If you supplement your selenium intake between now and the next 36 hours, it will help you to reduce your specific risk for cancer. The cheapest offer for high quality pork meat – a rich source of this nutrient – is currently to be found at Tesco. Click here to order and to also have your other groceries delivered via Uber. Or order the Char Siu from restaurant The Great Wall via Deliveroo. The restaurant uses herbs and spices that are optimally tuned for an optimal nutrient load.”

It is impossible to predict exactly how Big Data will develop. One thing is clear: data farmers and data processers will control everything, from scientific research to marketing applications. Supermarket Jumbo will no longer have to worry about its retail marketing and consumer marketer FrieslandCampina will disappear behind the Apple or IBM/Microsoft Health App that determines for you whether you are presented with Danone probiotic yoghurt or a traditional Dutch one.

As far as I am concerned, we stand on the brink of a great new world. But… if it is our data, do we get to decide how we want to be serviced? If yes, shall we, as users and developers, explore what we can mean for each other, well in advance for a change?
(Tip: check #bigdataFoodLondon)

Foodlog is working together with Food Matters Live in London (22-24 november) in exploring the the Brave New World that comes along with Big Data.

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