We have come a long way since the introduction of the smartphone and social networks however only in the last 12 months has everyone started to realise the cost of free. Your only consideration when you downloaded an app on your mobile device used to be whether you opted for the free version and were bombarded with ads or the paid version and were left alone. It now transpires that with the advances in Artificial Intelligence being targeted for ads is the least of your worries and it’s only going to get worse. In fact these advances are being driven by companies you will have never heard of and one of the most successful who specialise in facial recognition is valued at $4.5 Billion ( China’s Sense Time ) so don’t assume staying abreast of developments by the likes of Microsoft, Google and Amazon are the ones ones to watch.
The recent controversy around the use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica highlighted the value of our data and what can be done if it is mined / sold without our knowledge. This could however be a driver for good and encourage the consumerisation of the web where people are willing to subscribe to products rather than opting for a free version where you give away all the rights to your data.
The exploitation of data is however not just a western issue, in China social data will eventually drive everyone’s credit score. By 2020, everyone in China will be enrolled in a vast national database that compiles fiscal and government information, including minor traffic violations, and distills it into a single number ranking each citizen. The system isn’t in place yet and for now the government is watching how eight Chinese companies issue their own “social credit” scores under state-approved pilot projects. One of the most high-profile projects is by Sesame Credit, the financial wing of Alibaba with 400 million users. (Alibaba is the world’s biggest online shopping platform and is using its unique database of consumer information to compile individual “social credit” scores).
Slowly everyone is waking up to the value of Data and that behavioural insights can be used to distribute wealth, votes and even spending. It will be interesting with GDPR and advances in Artificial Intelligence whether consumerisation of the web will be a preference over transparent and agreed usage of personal data. Enterprises who can transparently and ethically handle data will win the race.