The rise of the machines: What your information is getting used for


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“The Terminator,” “The Matrix,” “I, Robotic.”

All of those are movies the place machines change into sentient and try to take over the world (or not less than kill all people). It’s a well-liked plot line as a result of it speaks to our deep-seated fears about expertise. Will our gadgets and the information they accumulate be used towards us as we transfer towards Web3?

It’s not simply Hollywood paranoia. Lately, we’ve seen growing proof that our information is being utilized in methods we by no means meant or anticipated. The Cambridge Analytica scandal confirmed how Fb information was harvested and used to control voters within the U.S. presidential election. 

Google has been fined for gathering information from youngsters with out their dad or mum’s consent. And facial recognition expertise is being utilized by regulation enforcement and companies with little regulation or oversight.


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On this article, we’ll delve into the hazards of unfettered information pipelines and the way blockchain expertise, significantly as we transfer in the direction of Web3, can doubtlessly cut back the opacity of the black field of algorithms.

The world runs on algorithms

We live in an age the place algorithms are more and more making selections for us. They resolve what we see on social media, the adverts we’d like and who will get a mortgage and who doesn’t. 

Algorithms could be easy, just like the one which decides what order to point out leads to a search engine. Or they are often extra complicated, like those utilized by social media corporations to resolve which posts to point out us in our newsfeeds. 

A few of these algorithms are designed to be clear. We all know how Google’s search algorithm works, for instance. However many others are opaque, that means we don’t understand how they work or what information they use to make selections. 

This lack of transparency is regarding for a variety of causes. For one, it may well result in biased selections. If an algorithm is utilizing race or gender as a consider its decision-making, that bias might be mirrored within the outcomes. 

Second, opaque algorithms could be gamed. If we don’t understand how an algorithm works, we will’t work out easy methods to recreation it. That is why many corporations maintain their algorithms secret — they don’t need folks to control the system. 

Lastly, opaque algorithms are troublesome to carry accountable. If an algorithm makes a mistake, it may be laborious to determine why or easy methods to repair it. This lack of accountability is especially problematic when algorithms are used for essential selections, like whether or not or not somebody will get a mortgage or a job. 

The hazards of knowledge pipelines

The issue with algorithms is that they’re solely nearly as good as the info they’re utilizing. If the information is biased, the algorithm might be biased. If the info is incomplete, the algorithm will make inaccurate predictions. 

And sometimes, the info that algorithms use is much from excellent. It comes from quite a lot of sources, together with social media, sensors, and authorities databases. This information is then collected and processed by quite a lot of corporations earlier than it ever reaches the algorithm. 

Every step on this course of introduces potential errors and biases. Social media information, for instance, is usually unrepresentative of the inhabitants as a complete. And sensors could be inaccurate. The result’s a knowledge pipeline that’s usually opaque, biased, and troublesome to carry accountable. 

Admittedly, killer robots lean in a bit in the direction of the fantastical — however there are extra discrete methods to your information to be exploited by the powers that be. So what’s your information getting used for? Listed below are some potentialities:

How your information is used

  • To attain your political opinions and manipulate you throughout election season
  • To promote you merchandise you don’t want
  • To trace your location and actions
  • To focus on you with adverts
  • To forestall you from getting a job or mortgage

These are just some examples — the checklist goes on. And it’s not simply companies which can be doing this. Authorities businesses are utilizing information to trace residents, predict crime, and even combat wars. 

In brief, information is getting used to regulate and manipulate folks in quite a lot of methods. And sometimes, these makes use of are hidden from the people who find themselves being affected. 

Web3 and the potential of blockchain-based information markets

One potential resolution to the issues with information pipelines is a blockchain-based information market. In such a market, information can be collected and saved on a decentralized community. 

This may have an a variety of benefits. For one, it could make the info pipeline extra clear. We’d know the place the info got here from and the way it was collected. Additionally, it could make the info extra reliable. If the info is saved on a decentralized community, it could be a lot tougher to control. One of these information storage may change into an much more essential idea as we transfer towards Web3.

Lastly, it could make the info extra accessible. Anybody would have the ability to entry the info and use it to construct algorithms. Privateness wouldn’t be a difficulty as a result of the info can be anonymized and there are mechanisms to stop misuse.

For example,  the Ocean Protocol is a decentralized information change protocol that permits information sharing whereas sustaining information privateness. It’s constructed on the Ethereum blockchain and makes use of good contracts to make sure that information is barely shared with events who’ve permission to make use of it. 

The Ocean Protocol could possibly be used to create a knowledge market the place information is collected, saved, and distributed in a clear and trustless manner. This may permit information for use extra effectively and will assist to resolve among the issues with the present information pipeline.

In fact, you’ll be able to see how this is without doubt one of the best frontiers of Web3 since information is the lifeblood of the brand new web.

Overcoming the challenges of blockchain-based information markets

It’s essential to notice {that a} blockchain-based information market will not be an ideal resolution. There are nonetheless some challenges that should be addressed. For example, it’s not clear how information can be priced in such a market. 

The blockchain neighborhood must be proactive in collaborating in and growing information markets. In any other case, they run the chance of being left behind because the centralized platforms proceed to dominate.

Folks will have the ability to deal with their information as an asset — however the proper infrastructure must be in place first. A technique to do that is to develop information wallets that may permit folks to regulate their information and obtain compensation for sharing it. 

The uPort platform — now break up into Serto and Veramo — is one instance of a knowledge pockets that’s being developed on the Ethereum blockchain. uPort permits customers to regulate their id, private info, and information. It additionally allows them to share this info with others in a safe and decentralized manner.

Knowledge high quality is crucial

One other problem is information high quality. In a centralized system, information is managed by a single entity. Because of this the info is extra prone to be correct and of top quality. 

In a decentralized system, nevertheless, there isn’t any single supply of reality. Because of this the standard of knowledge can differ enormously. Knowledge high quality is a crucial problem that must be addressed for Web3 and blockchain-based information markets to achieve success.

A possible repair for the info high quality problem is to make use of information curation markets. In these markets, folks can be incentivized to supply correct and high-quality information. The iGrant information pockets platform is one instance of a knowledge curation market that’s being developed on the Ethereum blockchain.

These are simply among the challenges that should be addressed. If they are often overcome, blockchain-based information markets have the potential to revolutionize the best way that information is collected, saved and distributed.

The subsequent article will cap off our Web3 sequence, placing every part we’ve talked about collectively to see the large image of how information, crypto, blockchain, and Web3 will form the web — and the world — within the years to return. Keep tuned!

Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode.


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