Tech Talk: Privacy a Valuable Commodity

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Tech Talk: Privacy a Valuable Commodity

Sat, 02/15/2020 - 19:57
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By ROCCO MAGLIO

The cost of your flat screen television is offset by the data that the television manufacturer collects. You can now purchase a large flat screen television for a fraction of the cost of its components. This is because the data that is collected by your smart television is quite valuable. This data can be sold to subsidize the cost of the television.

The most valuable asset of some of the largest tech companies Google, Facebook, and Twitter is information about us: what we like, what we buy, how old we are, and where we live. These companies seem to have an insatiable appetite for our private information.

Computer algorithms can turn this data into useful information for marketers. This data enables us to be manipulated in our decisions. Using these vast amounts of information, psychological principles and sales techniques, our behavior can be influenced. It can be subtle and we might not even notice the subtle pushes that led us to where they wanted us to go.

We provide this valuable information to these services for very little. Facebook provides a simple way to update friends and see what friends are doing and in exchange they receive information that is extremely valuable. They have turned this information into billions of dollars in value mainly by selling ads and information on us.

This leads to the question of how you can protect your privacy while still enjoying modern comforts. Try to limit your use of smart devices as they often are more about monitoring you than helping you. The less smart a device is, the less useful it is for monitoring you. Do not put too much of your private life online as anything you give to the tech companies becomes public. 

If you do use these smart devices, technology services fight back by giving it false data from time to time. With machine learning, to overcome the negative effects of a bad result, it takes lots of accurate results. If you feed artificial intelligence enough bad results it becomes unreliable.  The purpose of this machine learning is to learn about us so they can manipulate us, so do not feel bad about manipulating it.

The idea in providing false data is to confuse the system.  Watch a program that you wouldn’t normally watch. Search for products that you’d never buy.  The false data takes a lot of effort and time to unlearn. As I said, it takes lots of good data to overcome just a small amount of bad data.  Ultimately this would make the internet giants appreciate the value of your data and they may feel inclined to fairly compensate you for it.

We need to fight for our privacy. Our information is valuable because it can be used to manipulate us. This information is used to get us to buy things we do not need and to exploit our differences. If we do not discover the value of our information, it will continue to be exploited.

 

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