The quantity of information in the world is soaring. Merely keeping up with, and storing new information is difficult enough. Analyzing it, to spot patterns and extract useful information, is harder still. Even so, this data deluge has great potential for good—as long as consumers, companies, and governments make the right choices about when to restrict the flow of data, and when to encourage it. Find out more.
encourage it. Plucking the diamond from the waste A few industries have led the way in their ability to gather and exploit data. Credit card companies monitor every purchase and can identify fraudulent ones with a high degree of accuracy, using rules derived by crunching through billions of transactions. Stolen credit cards are more likely to be used to buy hard liquor than wine, for example, because it is easier to fence. Insurance firms are also good at combining clues to spot suspicious claims: