If You Could Give Your Child Longevity, Immunity or Intelligence, You'd Choose?

The provocative query is just one of a series of questions on a new app - downloaded by more than 150,000 people so far - designed to showcase the human face of big data.

I will admit I was kind of stumped. The question was -- if I had the power to give my child longevity, immunity or intelligence, which would I choose? I paused. How does one decide such a thing? Finally, I went with intelligence. My rationale? Intelligence might help my daughters make decisions which would lead to better lives and longer ones. But what if they got sick? Why wouldn’t I choose immunity to prevent that from happening?

Provocative? Yes, and all designed to get us thinking and talking not necessarily about this one issue but about all the data that’s being collected in our lives every day and put a human face on it. Hence, the title of this unique new project – “The Human Face of Big Data.”

“What we’re trying to do is spark a global conversation about this new world of big data and just getting people to think about what it means," said Rick Smolan, creator of and spokesman for the project. “This is really a turning point in the human race. If we are going to be able to go ahead and re-engineer our species as a lot of people think we are, I think that right now corporations and governments are the ones that are actually using all this data. And I think we need to think about, wait a second, if I’m generating this data, if I am leaving this stream of browser cookies when I go from web site to web site, if credit card companies are selling information about me, I want to control the information that I am generating."

Watch: Would you choose longevity, intelligence or immunity for your child?


More than 150,000 people – so far -- have downloaded a mobile app, answering a series of questions anonymously on everything from their views on infidelity to what they think will happen when they die. (People with pets are more likely to think they’ll be reincarnated, according to the initial data.) To get involved, you can download the smartphone app by going to www.humanfaceofbigdata.com from now through November 20th, when all the data will be evaluated. (A book of photographs illustrating the human face of big data will also be released November 20th.)

I’m curious. How many other people will choose intelligence as their gift to their child – and what does it say about me that I chose that trait over longevity and immunity? What would you choose for your child and what does that say about you?

Look forward to finding out next month!

Kelly Wallace is chief correspondent of iVillage. You can follow Kelly on Twitter @kellywallacetv.

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