Could our personal data solve for poverty on earth?
Your personal data is worth something, and actually we do deserve the value of these (our) data. Meanwhile are the large companies, such as Google and Facebook, the ones who collect our data as input and use it to transform it in valuable output. Via personal devices they record every step we take save it into their datacenters, these datacenters are the heart of what is called Big Data. A treasure of valuable data and new insights derived from e-mails, location based services, photo’s and many more sources most ordinary people are even not aware of.
Companies are willing to pay huge amounts for our personal data. Not only for advertising, but they can also use it to predict your future behavior. They are able to find indicators of a persons purchase intent and interests that we may be giving subconsciously. Some argue that Google’s business model is a threat, because its directly making money from what they have in control. They key is to regard data as an asset, as something valuable that’s our property and maybe we should even think a little bit about it like it’s money. Thinking different about it is controversial, data has always been used to sell goods and services, nowadays it’s the product.
Viktor Mayer Schonberger, author of ‘The Big Data Revolution’, found that companies do already look this way at big data so they’ve created new business models. Companies such as Facebook and Google have valuations of respectively $225 billon and $376 billion. All created with the value of our data. That’s why Jaron Lanier, author of ‘Who owns the Future’, wonders out loud, and so do I, weather we should get paid for this data supply. He estimates that the data should be worth hundreds of dollars for each person that’s active on the internet, if not thousands for some people. Every company nowadays sees data as a potential asset to generate value with, and we give it away to every company that we use services from because we don’t know how to possess our data and turn it into value ourselves.
Recently people fear that advances in technology will throw people out of work. The answer to this has always been ‘’No we are just making new ways of work that are even better than the previous ones’’, but the problem is that as things become highly automated and highly efficient because of digital technology, the question remains; can we still make that answer work? If cars are driving themselves and our products are printed by 3D printers instead of manufactured in a factory, is there then still anybody making a living? Then the only possible answer is that you can make a living with your information, because information is what becomes valuable in an highly advanced society.
So the value of personal data is going up which raises the question will this ever reach the poverty line? So weather the average value of information for a person in a certain country will be as much as the poverty line at some point. Jaron Lanier has made calculations and thinks that this is something that could happen. If information could eliminate poverty, then there are new ways to think about society, that might be something we should think about.
As a ambitious and entrepreneurial BIM student this futuristic philosophy keeps me thinking about ways to facilitate this shift from giving data to selling data. Feel free to leave a reply or contact me if you would like to share any thoughts about this.
Schonberger & Gukier, V, M. & K (2013) The Big Data Revolution, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Lanier, J. (2014) Who Owns The Future, Simon & Schuster.
Kim, Eugene (2015) Uber has grown faster in its first five years than Facebook did, http://uk.businessinsider.com/uber-vs-facebook-valuation-in-years-one-through-five-2015-6?r=US&IR=T 09-13-2015.
Forbes, (2015) The World’s Most Valuable Brands, http://www.forbes.com/companies/google/ 09-13-2015