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Blog: Big Companies Need Your Data

The more you let them know about yourself, the better service you will get

Photo by Justin Tran from Dribbble

I have already written many articles about the use and introduction of artificial intelligence in our lives, and of course the most interesting has not been touched yet. One of these topics is where all these startups and big companies come from, take all this necessary data and on what data they train their robots. And, of course, the answer to this question is obvious and everyone knows the explicit answer to it, they take our data, our every click, every visit to the sites, every action on these sites, our every message and every like. In general, it is not surprising that they take this data and use it to improve their services and better serve us and provide their services in the best possible way. Let’s take a deeper look what’s happening in the data world.

Data types

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User data is pretty much everything that a particular company knows about you. It’s often broken down into two main categories: declared data and implicit data.

Declared data is anything that a user gives a company voluntarily. Generally, this is done when a customer signs up for a service or creates some kind of profile, and it can include everything from your name, age, and location to your hobbies and personality type. These details are just basic user data, and since they’re so widespread and easy to obtain, the most common data points aren’t worth very much on their own.

Implicit data is data that is collected about you without needing your direct input. Your browsing habits, how long you stay on a webpage, the ads you click on, your mouse movements, your playlists — almost anything you do online could theoretically be collected and sent to a database for analysis.

How data is collected

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Data collection can be divided into several parts, which are characterized by the complexity of the collection and the price.

Most firms will be asking customers directly for data at some point. When someone subscribes to a service, registers with a website or buys something online for the first time, a form usually needs to be filled out. In this form, the company will ask for a name, birthday, city, country and email address as a minimum, though other demographic and sometimes firmographic data will also be collected.

Big companies are also adept — as they have the technology to be so — at pulling in customer data from a whole plethora of online sources. The most obvious place, of course, is from their own websites, most of which are now equipped with cookies and web beacons. These technologies enable companies to track visitors’ browsing histories — even as they exit the company’s site and venture off around the web. With cookies, companies know where customers have been, what they’ve looked at, and where they go after they’ve finished browsing the company’s site.

“What people don’t realize is that there are these hidden trackers across the web that are scooping up your personal information”

Weinberg, The founder of DuckDuckGo

Email tracking is another method. With this, companies don’t just learn that a recipient has opened an email, but also where it was opened and on what device. Over 40% of emails sent around the world are tracked, according to WIRED. Similarly, apps embedded with third-party “trackers” are also a source of customer data. Though some of this data is analyzed to better understand how apps are used, much of it is also utilized for targeted advertising, behavioral analytics and location tracking.

Companies are also purchasing and selling customer data from and to third-parties. There are big data companies that exist for the sole purpose of collecting, analyzing and selling customer and business data for targeted advertising campaigns.

Data usage

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User data collection may have acquired a bad name, but modern companies really wouldn’t survive without it. At a minimum, they have to analyze user behavior to follow market trends and figure out consumer preferences. If they can also guarantee advertisers an audience that will click on their ads, then they can make money, which allows them to stay in business without charging for their services. The advertising model that basically runs the modern Internet is probably the biggest driver behind the market for user data.

But the same data can easily be used to teach artificial intelligence our behavior. With this data, it will be easier to train these robots which can become our personal assistants or even serve our virtual profile to behave like us and know all our preferences, our behavior, and our desires. Because in my opinion, it will help simplify our lives. But on the other hand, it is also worth noting that most people are afraid of this artificial intelligence and even more so that their data is used and that large companies know their every action. But in any case, we cannot avoid this, if not yours personally, then your wife, your parents, your friends, the dates will be picked up and used.

As a conclusion, I want to say that by giving our data even without knowing it, we help big companies to provide us with better quality service and change our future. Even that artificial intelligence will change our future and make our lives easier, and our data will help companies to train faster. So do not be afraid that all your actions and data are known and collected.

Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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