Blog: DATA: Collection, Accounting, and Distribution
Have you seen those YouTube compilations of every time president Donald Trump said China? Replace that word with Data and you get the next big buzz word. But is it really a buzz word?
Data, data, data. Everyone’s excited about data. Come to think about it, when you have lot’s of information you can usually make better decisions, predict more accurately, and expand the size of your thinking. Apply that data to a computer, possibly hundreds of them, even thousands — their computational power is now combined, working and picking at any mass of data you input.
But Where Do I Get Data?
Advertisers are interested. Researchers are interested. AI and ML startups are interested. On the other side, web giants like Google and Facebook don’t have similar worries.
With vast amounts of data that means something, that can convey something if used right, you can look at a problem from a perspective that wasn’t available to us before. If before we were thinking linear, now we’ve gone 3D.
Let’s take Facebook for example, who is currently the Privacy pawn of the internet. In return for offering us their services of “Social Media”, they take and store all of the data we put into it. That is our names, pictures, friends, viewing habits, interests and much more. With this information, they finetune their algorithms to match us with better ads, something that would interest us to click it. Now the idea is generally altruistic and doesn’t sound all that bad, right? If we’re gonna get ads, might as well be something good. I know I’ve benefited from a timely and accurate ad. But the problem is that “Zuck” doesn’t have anything like that in mind. Getting us matched with the right ads only means higher click-through rates. And that is the general power of data. If used right, it can bring about scary results.
We stand to benefit tremendously from gathering a huge amount of relevant data and commanding machines to gnaw through it and organize it into information.
That is, not until we begin to own our data.
Would you like to put a price on it?
Monetizing data is quite an unexplored idea. It was first proposed by the arrival of blockchain technologies. The general idea is that you would actually own everything you output. Controlling your browsing data is already made possible by the Brave browser, which is a fully fledged internet browser substitute for the likes of Chrome. The Brave browser comes with built-in ad and third-party script blocker. This greatly reduces the number of information websites can collect about you. With the introduction of European Data Protection laws, the number is reduced even more. However, the information you input into a website voluntarily is generally the price you pay to be able to use the service. You agree to the data collection and hand over your rights, before you can even continue. This leads to the conclusion that your data is worth something.
And it truly is worth something. We just haven’t gotten around to fully realizing it and develop a way to own, store and sell our data to willing buyers.
Google is also making an extensive collection of data about us. When you think about it, Google knows exactly who we are, what we search for, what we buy, what’s in our emails, which websites we visit, what laptop we use, where we come from, how much time we spend online, which ads we click, which websites belong to us and more and more… They’re even making “data warehouses” to help you store ALL of your marketing data in one place, yes that’s right, on their cloud.
It is no surprise why Google and Facebook are the biggest monopolies in the World. These tech giants have paved the way for internet technology but also got carried away by the amount of power they have accrued over time. This power is indisputably due to the extensive ability to collect and discern data — to optimize their business processes.
The Future Is Data
No matter how you look at it, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Autonomous Driving, Deepmind Research, Advanced Marketing, Data Science, Business Intelligence, Health… It all requires data, meaningful, real data. It needs a way to organize the data into usable information, too. That is achieved with computing power. Today we have clouds, in the future, we may have even bigger computer networks.
With the advent of robots and artificial intelligence “taking over our jobs”, or more realistically putting it; making life easier, data can become a valuable asset for companies and institutions needing it.
That’s MY data.
Yes, we should be more selfish with our data. Especially with the rise of technologies that would make this proposal not only realistic but urgent!
Blockchain technology and subsequent cryptocurrencies might enable us to do this. Instead of allowing websites and devices to collect our data, we must invent a way to collect it ourselves. Furthermore, for others to be able to use this data at a price, we must store it somewhere online where only we can have ultimate access to it. A blockchain ledger is a perfect place for that. There are decentralized storage facilities that can take data and distribute it across a series of computers scattered all around the world. The files are cryptographically encrypted and given an owner so that only she can have access to it. This would allow for data marketplaces or other data collecting services that would create new paradigms of working.
Data is food for machines.
A philosophical projection of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, mass computing, and mass data facilitation estimates a big shift; that even the most complicated tasks that require human collaboration and deep thinking may become trivial as they are replaced with these sophisticated and advanced devices.
So the only way we can keep the hamster wheel rolling is by supplying it with good, accurate data, computing power, storage space, and electricity.
Although this projection is well into the future, one thing remains certain; is that we must regain control of the data, if not for the sake of privacy, then for the sake of preventing monopolies making a killing off of our backs. If we can make advertisers pay for our browsing habits, for starters, we would have made sufficient progress toward a better, decentralized and fair future.