The only thing most people hate more than an advertisement is a survey, but do understand that the only reason that you have any broadcast media of any kind is that someone can make money and your interaction data is the best way for many organizations to make money.
Every organization in the modern world that has the money and know-how is tracking everything you do on every electronic device that is connected to their properties — ATM Machines, Web Sites, Social Media Sites or anyone who you interact with who is sitting at a computer (customer service of all kinds). User Information is becoming one of the hottest selling items on the Market today and there are not only Armies of Analysts (both human and AI), but legions of entirely new disciplines are blossoming to consume and make sense of the volume of data that is being produced.
We all love our privacy, but businesses are in the business of making money and the details of any interaction that you make with a company are considered their intellectual property — free to be mined, bought and sold on the open market (usually to the highest bidder, who is most likely to be the company who is best able to use this data to exploit you — face it, businesses are in the business of making money and they will spend their money accordingly).
So what is the concerned citizen to do?
All people and organizations ultimately want Wealth, Power and/or Prestige. Almost every bottom-line can be reduced to some combination of these factors and often they are strongly interdependent. For example, every company ultimately wants to sell more goods/services. This is what they are in the business of. To that end, they will do everything in their power to increase their reputation, increase customer experience (which goes to both reputation and probability of sales), find potential customers and maximize the conversion rate between customer contact and sales. Politicians market votes. Bloggers and social media sites market views and user interaction time.
We are all clamoring for your ‘business’, because that is how a ‘business’ gets paid (in whatever currency that a given ‘business’ deals in, and ultimately, we are all in the business of business.
One easy way to thwart the market for ‘clandestine-data’ would be to offer up something substantially more valuable — direct user interaction. The only thing most people hate more than an advertisement is a survey, but do understand that the only reason that you have any broadcast media of any kind is that someone can make money. Every song you hear is played, recorded and broadcast by people needing/wanting money. Every show you watch on TV or hear on the Radio. Every site you visit on the net. These are usually paid for by advertisements, but this can be supplemented with user interaction data that helps guide advertisers as well as vendors and manufacturers to both build and sell better products and services.
Fortunately, most of the data that is collected is very difficult to analyze in any meaningful way. We have that going for us. They know exactly where, when and how you use your credit cards and what you bought; they know exactly which websites you visit, which links you click on and which products you buy. But these are only very rough approximations of user preferences.
Raw data on easily verified preferences (star ratings on Amazon, likes, comments and shares on Facebook, link-clicks anywhere on the internet, etc), are what ALL of the data consumers are ultimately after. By interacting more with sites in a more direct way, you can produce a flood of useful information that will be substantially more valuable to data consumers than the more suspect data that is passively collected wherever you go.
Make no bones about it, as long as people can make money off of your interaction data, these data will be collected, analyzed, bought and sold and the techniques and the markets for this kind of analysis will only grow in the future. You do have one choice — interact deliberately in directly usable ways or not.
I know that this choice and this situation will anger many people, but it is both the way of the world and the wave of the future. For those concerned about Artificial Intelligence, what do you think that an Artificial Intelligence is? It is a non-directed analysis of Big Data! No Artificial Intelligence can be built or trained without gobs of data to train it on. In effect, an Artificial Intelligence is your user data and your user data is becoming the Artificial Intelligence!
So, make you vote count. Try interacting more with the sites you use. You will find that your user experience will improve. You will see less irrelevant ads. You will see fewer posts that anger you. You will see more emails that you are interested in and receive a more relevant assortment of robo-calls. You are being tracked and you are being hunted. But you do have some control over which predators you are most likely to encounter.
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