Privacy v. Publicity

Your personal data is valuable. We give our data away all day long. Whether it was for searches (Google) or for talking with friends (Facebook), those companies have grown in size and reach because of the amount of user data they have gathered.

Knowing what people think is valuable. And the more private, the more valuable.  

When companies give people the free tools to write it down, and they do, they can make incredible earnings. When they give people the free tools to say that stuff, they can make even larger margins. This is because voice contains far more personal, private, and valuable data than text. That's why assistants like Siri, Cortana, Facebook Messenger, Google Home, Alexa, and company are so hot right now.

Privacy is a confusing thing so I’ve had to think of it in simple terms, like an onion ring, in which it’s not binary, but more like a zone. Our privacy isn’t a thing that is binary, nor even planar, but volumetric.

onion.pngAn onion-style model for considering privacy and publicity.

So privacy isn’t dead, it’s just getting invaded by companies that are profiting from publicizing our private data. Google and Facebook are paid to publicise what we write or say. If we look at it through the eyes of Google it’s a good match, in which the user’s private search is mapped to the marketer’s public advertisement.  Apple is handling this problem via “differential privacy” so they can obscure enough data to not identify an individual, but still identify what people are thinking, writing, and saying.
What we need are new models both for revenues and for users, that balance publicity and privacy that allow us to personally set data management policies, to benefit from our own data, and allow us to be remunerated for what privacy we publicise.

Let’s keep thinking on it. Especially when it comes to systems as surveillant as bots.