Saving the World? How Big Data Is Tackling Everything From Cancer to Slavery

By Marcus Chan, Jordan Robertson and Mark Milian - 2014-06-03T15:00:49Z

Photograph by Lucas Films/Everett Collection

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Give the big data industry credit – it’s never been shy about thinking big. Aside from the promise of being able to pluck out that needle of insight from a company’s haystack of information by using sophisticated software, big data is also betting it can solve some of society’s most serious issues.

Crime, cancer and conflicts are just a few.

While the outcomes of many of these efforts are still playing out, in several instances the results so far are encouraging. They had better be. At stake is something far greater than a company’s bottom line — it's us.

What follows is a sample of how big-data efforts are tackling some of the world's most intractable problems. For all of our sakes, here's hoping the technology lives up to the hype.

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