How The Crave For Privacy Can Frustrate The Quest For Human Advancement

How The Crave For Privacy Can Frustrate The Quest For Human Advancement

By David Alade

Privacy issue in the past decade has been a very serious one for all technology companies. Facebook, Google, Cambridge Analytical and some other unsung issues, have suffered numerous amount in fine because of privacy suits. Yet, I do not expect this trajectory to reduce in the coming decades, for a simple reason, data is the new oil, and beyond all types of oil (“Brent or Shale”), your data (personal data) is one of the most priced and valuable. Your data has the probability of moving human race forward more than any other data in any ecosystem including, medicine, finance, politics, etc.

This got me puzzling why privacy? Do we really want privacy or our government is just forcing it down our throats? How can we balance our desire for privacy with the need for human advancement in the age of Artificial Intelligence, knowing well that there is no AI without Data including your private data? If data is poised to advance the quest for advancement that human has embarked on from Eden Garden, why restrict access to such data?

As I was contemplating I came across these lines on an article…

Face It?—?You Want To Be Seen
We may fear digital surveillance, but tech platforms count on our desire to be noticed online.

We take pleasure in it when our recommendation system is highly optimized, we enjoy it when our search result is efficient and customized, and we thrive when we get a medical diagnosis that addresses our very issue. The line we fail to constantly add to that is that all these would not have been achieved without data (and some ‘hashed’ private data).

We claim we want privacy but the only reason platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn to name a few thrive is because of our unending desire to be seen. We work hard to put contents (our thoughts, pictures, sentiment, struggles and more) on all these platforms, which the platforms have utilized to get the human race to where it is today: modelling behaviour, predicting human action, diagnosing the next outbreak among others.

What then do we mean by privacy? Your name? sensitive medical data? Spending records? Places you visited? Or what? Well, all data can be said to be private if I choose it to be so and GDPR has probably done a great job defining what private data is and how it should be handled. But I opine that if we do not seek earnestly to balance our desire for privacy with our desire to push the human race forward in the era of Artificial Intelligence, we may inherently and inevitably slow down our quest for advancement as a race.

While we should respect every one of our private data, I believe for us to advance as a human race the data we regard to as private is more crucial for the AI ecosystem advancement than we can imagine. Hence, the need for us to quickly find a way around how we can make the data available to AI systems. While for now, the efficient way is through hashing of unique data identifier, we can still up our game for better. Doing this will mean AI systems have more real data to work with and hence more reliability on its findings.

Way forward?

I have been studying the dynamics of Blockchain Technology in the past weeks, and maybe this will be the solution for the current issue that hashing of private data has; scrupulous ones unhashing it. Blockchain is an immutable public ledger, it hides the real face behind the curtain but makes all other records available. For AI systems, these records are all it needs. Imagine we have all medical records powered by blockchain, it means, we can train AI systems on numerous data with unparalleled veracity.

Well, whether blockchain becomes mainstream or not, we need to balance the human quest for privacy and the human quest for advancement in the age of Artificial Intelligence. No AI without data and your data is all we need, but you want it private.

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