The internet is amazing! Social networks are addicting! Online search engines (such as google, Baidu) put the world in front of us with a single click! Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Google maps, Uber… make our lives so much easier and cheaper than they were a decade ago!
Have you ever wondered how most of them can provide first class services for free, or near to cost price?
Have you ever wondered how these gigantic companies (some still called startups) move so much money?
Bear in mind, “there ain’t no such thing as free lunch”, if you are not paying enough for a service or product, it means you are the product! When I say this, I’m referring to how most companies monetise your personal data: your personal information, your friend’s data and people you hang out with, your likes, your dislikes, places you visited, where you live, your internet usage patterns, and much much more!
I bet you have already noticed that Google/ Facebook/ YouTube shows you commercials that you probably like! You may have also noticed that google maps notifies you when you enter your car and tells you how much time you may take to get home or some destination maps automatically guessed!
All of this is falls on Big Data revolution: storage of huge amounts of data; real-time big data analysis; machine learning algorithms for understanding your behaviour and make autonomous data-driven decisions!
Every single one of past powerful inventions were used for both good and evil. Think about dynamite or nuclear energy. Both brought great good and destruction upon the world. In the end, every scientific innovation is as good as people want it, or as society acts for regulating and building awareness around usage accountability.
Don’t just read my words, take 3 minutes to watch the following documentary summary and then you will be a little more aware and able to understand why I’m spending this time to put my thoughts in this article:
But just don’t be concerned! We will certainly gain a lot from this information era, but we all need to be aware of the risks of our digital trace. There is still a long road ahead to moderate the quantity of personal information we share online or to regulate how this information is stored (i.e. how anonymised it should be) and how it is used.
All your thoughts, comments and ideas are highly appreciated.
Stay tuned for next posts around these topics.