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Your personal data is the new currency (and a weapon)

We live the age of data, big data, if you like. Today advances in AI (artificial intelligence) allows us to extract extremely useful insights, that were inaccessible to us before, make millions of almost instantaneous well informed decisions and, ultimately, solve the biggest challenges humanity face to date. However, with great power comes great responsibility.

If you haven’t watched Netflix series Black Mirror yet, I highly suggest you do so. It is a series of mini-movies, almost totally unrelated to one another, thought provoking on what will happen, or actually is happening right now to society which is exposed to, let me put it this way, mass information weapons of individual destruction.

Today you barely think about moments that you are being filmed, or moments when you get into some sort of digital picture, voice recording or even your gesture or typing patterns. Just think about every car that has a always-on video registration device, ubiquitous surveillance cameras, satellites taking millions of shots from space, hacked phones all over the place which have cameras, microphones, gyros and all kinds of other sensors.

All of these information assets, fed to powerful enough AI algorithm for analysis, will lead to several alarming outcomes:

  • Almost no way to hide your identity or location from the system. You will be spotted in split second after being exposed to ANY data entry point, good enough to spot even the subtlest of your differentiating features.
  • Virtually no way to hide your intentions – good or bad. Facial expressions and body language are not our best allies.
  • Given that most of information we input and check is digital – a perfect “case” of your interests, fears, occupation, weaknesses, friends and family and so on. You can run, but you cannot hide.
  • “Weaponizing” this insight to target you via fake news, viral exposure in social media, communication bot attacks and any other imaginable and unimaginable way.

I think the debate about personal information has to go way beyond GDPR and alike, and it has to happen before its too late. Perfect surveillance and control is just around the corner, and anything that we, as individuals, have as biological, psychological or otherwise deeply personal features, should be treated as our personal information and its use heavily regulated and controlled.

We have to have a choice and saying in how much of our freedom are we ready to give away and have to be asked for consent. However, before that happens, maybe, just maybe that picture with you and your family, that you are eager to post in Instagram, or that hate comment you posted in reply to certain political news article, could be postponed, just a suggestion….forever…