Ignoring data analysis inferences
Written by Vasilis Vasilopoulos, DPO of ERT
Checking your credit card purchases you seem to be consuming a lot of snack, alcohol and fast food, and only a small part of your purchases in healthy foods such as vegetables, proteins and fruits. The fatty food that the machine can understand you buy is registered on the screen of your insurer, who adversely changes the terms of your contract.
The insurance company has been notified of your low risk of heart disease, but the life you lead, according to what you say in your Instagram posts, probably puts you in the high risk groups, as you always keep a cigarette and a glass of alcohol while you are with friends at a bar. The insurer will not let his company risk with you.
If you think that all the above are scripts written for Netflix movies, then what happens now with surveillance capitalism can be easily explained. Because these scenarios really happen! In fact, your follow-up continues in every venue, in any online environment or smart device. If you are indifferent about your personal data, it is even worse to ignore the fact that those who collect them earn money from coming to conclusions from them.
Understanding the knowledge gap is terrifying. As every Bank assesses your creditworthiness to identify a bad payer who makes a comfortable life avoiding debt repayment, insurance companies also want to know, before and after signing a contract with you, anything that relates to your health and the quality of life you live. On the other hand recruiters would like to know everything about you and your social life. They would like to find out if you are in bed with a fever or at some recreation area and you deceived your employer.
The knowledge gap that can be defined as a lack of understanding of the ability of the algorithm to draw conclusions, which reduce losses or increase profits to the surveillant, is due to the unceasing rate of digital tools and the one-way convenience, the charm of the comfort zone in work life, consumption of goods and our social relations.
Even worse, you cannot understand how you will lose something important, if the unknown who collects your data gain maximum profit. In other words, you cannot understand that you have sold your self-determination right to do what you want, enjoying a temporary sense of comfort and ease. For example, at the first level of lack of understanding algorithmic conclusions, you behave to your data as if they were worthless. On the second level, you realize that the algorithmic conclusion made from spying on your life significantly adds value to the one who took your data. Additionally, you are not sure if what you provided is a commodity that you exchanged with a free service of convenience, or a currency with which you bought luxury service for your everyday life.
There are tremendous questions you need to have answers to. To whom your data belong? Is data a commodity or a currency? Can be disconnected from yourself or are genetic features that define and allow you to decide on your life?
You can just do two evaluation tests yourself and you will get the answers that concern you:
-If you did not take up credit card convenience or if you did not follow the moments of entertainment and consumption of luxury goods, would you be losing or gaining from some algorithmic processing or more generally in your life?
-If you want to make yourself more secure of your privacy or hide from surveillance and the possible damage to your rights and freedoms, would this be a violent punishment or joy of celebrity since you reveal aspects of your personality, your relationships and behavior?