The rapid digital transformation of society has blurred the boundaries between the virtual and the physical. The photorealistic objects that appear in an Ikea catalog are computer-generated imagery. Naver’s ultra-high resolution 3D rendering of Seoul uses photogrammetry to stitch together 25,000 aerial photos. Microsoft Flight Simulator creates machine learning-generated photorealistic virtual worlds from 2.5 petabytes of Bing satellite maps. FitBit devices, while not medical grade, collect high-quality biometric data that can be used for early Covid-19 detection.

The advent of big data has accelerated this process. The intrusive collection of private data on social media, mobile devices, and wearables has created various “data doubles” based on our everyday activities. The push for real-time synchronicity via content-delivery networks, Edge computing, and 5G, enables a nearly zero-latency experience between users and cloud services.

Big Data Studies Lab examines the philosophical implications of life where the virtual and the physical are increasingly difficult to distinguish. In addition to theoretical explorations, we design experiments using Intel’s RealSense sensors, 3D virtual worlds, and Microsoft HoloLens.