The Coming Revolution: Privacy

I’m Baz and I use software to save businesses time and money, by figuring out the most efficient way to get things done, then automating it wherever possible.

Yesterday, I wrote about machine learning and how it is going to transform our lives (and already is) as the machines learn more and more about us and start to predict our needs before we even know them.

But there’s another side to this story.

The whole concept of privacy – of information about you staying about you – is going to die.

For machines to learn, they need to access large amounts of data. They can spot the patterns, the trends across oceans of information in a way that humans don’t have the capacity to. But in order to do that, they need access to that data.

That’s why companies like Google and Facebook are hoovering up so much data at all times. Facebook knows who your friends are, what they look like (from those photos you upload), where you’ve been and what you like. Google knows what you’re interested in (from your searches), where you are right now (from your phone) and how you’re communicating with (from your email). Apple even knows your heart rate (if you have an Apple Watch).

In theory, this data is anonymous. But, just as a computer is great at spotting patterns across swathes of data, that same computer can analyse the data and figure out which bits are probably related to just you.

This has serious implications for our entire society – so much information in the hands of private corporations – who looks after it?