“Siri, how does my calendar look like today?” and the AI powered personal assistant responds with your day’s itinerary and even provides recommendations about weather and traffic. How does this happen? It’s because of the meetings we ourselves added to the calendar and the assistant also knows our location and the place we work. When the entries were made, it was just data, but it was converted into knowledge by the computing power at the hands of the virtual assistant.
At the dawn of computing, all the knowledge that a computer had about us was probably a name. But as the computing power grew exponentially so did the amount of data we fed into these systems. And using that data and all that computing power, a virtual avatar of anyone can be created.
Why do companies store data?
Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. Not only can the companies, who store swathes of data, create our virtual avatar, they can also predict with pretty good accuracy where we would eat next, what would we order and if we would require a cab back home or not! The power wielded by these companies eventually translates into huge amounts of money for them and for that very reason, they try and collect it at every possible point in time. Whoever has the most data, is the most powerful and thus the richest. No wonder the four largest brands in the world are tech companies and data is a big play for all of them!
Why should it be an issue?
Companies and the consumer, both benefit from this knowledge. For consumers, the level of personalization is like a dopamine trigger! “I think real-time personalization and artificial intelligence are the big technologies,” says Greg Grdodian, CEO of Reach Marketing, an integrated marketing solutions provider. “Everyone wants that individualized experience. And both of those technologies will help you get there and maximize every engagement.”
Personalization is not a concern, but privacy is. If you look at the number of data breaches that have happened lately, and that too at the hands of some of the most reputed companies, you surely will be concerned. Companies might not be directly selling your data but they themselves are prone to attacks and that is when things get scary.
A social network might only be profiling you, anonymously, to send you targeted ads. An ecommerce company, again might just be storing your data to make that checkout process simpler. But when a black hat gets access to the two repositories, he can use the two anonymous profiles to get access to ‘virtual you’ and once there he can even clean up your bank account.
What are the companies doing to keep our data safe?
There are dozens of apps that a person uses on a regular basis. Some are developed by startups and others by large enterprises. While all these companies do their best to secure our data, some are better positioned, because of the availability of resources, than others to achieve this goal.The most advanced today, like Apple and Google, are using tools like differential privacy to keep our data safe but even that does not make the system foolproof. “In some cases you simply can’t answer the questions that developers want answers to,” said Yonatan Zunger, a privacy engineer at Google. “We basically see differential privacy as a useful tool in the toolbox, but not a silver bullet.”
What is the safest bet?
A zero knowledge, decentralized system with private key for consumers. That is the only way to keep data private and secure!
We cannot the blame the companies alone for the incidents like money being stolen from credit cards, when we willingly provide these companies all the information without even thinking of the consequence. We need to realize the value of our data and also that the if we, at the very first step, will not provide open access to it, no one will be able to hack into our virtual selves!
Check out more about our zero-knowledge system to store and share your vital information securely and try out the app here