I was reading a story recently where an Australian tattoo parlor had its accounts frozen by its bank, because it was a tattoo parlor. The bank had a rule that it wouldn't keep accounts f criminal organizations, and since at the time it made the rule fifty percent of the parlors were operated by gangs of some sort, the other fifty percent were guilty by association.
Yesterday, my client was talking about his new fitness tracker watch and not long ago a friend was bragging about his health tracker ring, that monitored his general health level, his heart rate, it new when he was drinking, his sleep cycles and all kinds of other gamified data.
I believe that these two paragraphs are related.
While there are all kinds of surface level privacy layers, when it comes down to it at the base layers and through what is available to purchase, we should know that we are highly identifiable in a multitude of ways. Even if one specific data point can't locate or identify us, once multiple sources are used, it is relatively easy to find out who we are and of course, what we do.
This data comes with a great deal of economic incentive to monetize it and what we generally focus on is how it is used to advertise to us or segment us to influence things like our voting behavior. However, wearables (over 200M sold in 2019) have given rise to a whole new level of intrusion that can be leveraged in many ways, both for betterment and much more insidiously.
For an example of betterment, through big data points and localization, it is possible that behavior and results could be used to point toward and provide solutions to various types of diseases. This could be highly valuable and could provide a whole range of new solutions to health issues or various other implications.
However, it can also be used to identify individuals and the problems they may have. With increasing sensitivity in the equipment, things like a a potential heart attack case may be identified and this could be done before one gets for example a life insurance policy. With the right to refuse service, this means that an insurer would not need to tell the potential
patient customer why they were refused.
Then, there are multiple layers that can be added in order to provide context for the information the wearable provides, for example Facebook being able to predict depression with metrics that are only going to become more precise. They can also predict diabetes and other issues like obesity also, obviously the last is relatively easy with so many images being uploaded.
Add the commentary of social media as narrative over the physical feedback, information from credit card and online purchases, and the model an insurance company, bank or government could hold may be highly accurate and give more insight into the condition and habits of a person than even that person knows about themselves. What kinds of decisions are they going to make when we already know that monetary gain or saving is the ultimate goal, and even if they could be used for betterment, the cost of bettering is likely greater with a longer ROI than the gain from saving by removing "problem areas/ people".
Imagine a person who is outspoken on social media yet believes that they are protected from repercussion as they use a pseudonym - believing they are anonymous. I believe there are very few people in this digital world who are truly anonymous. While they go about their digital day, their behavior is affecting their real life experience as the services they interact with are adjusting access based on the information they are fed via an AI that automatically adjusts variables. Perhaps some will pay higher premiums than others, some may be denied service completely.
We all know that we are being tracked and pretty much the only way not to be is to have zero connection to the modern world, something that is highly impractical and potentially impossible to scale to 8 billion people. Complete off-grid life is likely only possible for some in this world and for many to do so, it would cause disruption that would likely lead to a great deal of violence - the antithesis of what many are aiming for.
Technology is one of those things that has advanced us incredibly, but like any tool, it can, has and will be used in ways that both benefit and harm us. Whether it is for better or worse seems to mostly depend on who it is that holds it, and when we consider that the core of power is knowledge, we as individuals definitely are not the ones who have access to or hold the most - yet as a collective of individuals we are the providers of that knowledge and the collection funnels are continually increasing to find more and more data in order to make the model of who we are as groups and individuals increasingly precise.
I do not believe there is an easy solution to this, however I do think that one of the possible improvement processes is being part of the profit cycle included in the collection and data sales. Because corporations will try to always profit, when we are the ones who have ownership it is us who will see the benefits of the gains. The problem with the stuátus quo is that there is already so much imbalance that it is impossible for the vast majority of us to get into ownership. But that is changing.
Will we be healthier for it?
[ a Steem original ]