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The Silent Observer

There are algorithms running all the time around us: Facebook is assessing our posts and activities, Google knows where we’ve been and are searching for, our web history, Amazon knows what we’re going to buy. However, there is no service that can ask these observers of our behaviour what they’re thinking or predicting about us.

As these services gain even more knowledge (e.g. analyzing our language use, tracking our eye gaze, getting to know our vitals), what further conclusions can they draw and will be OK with this tracking if we’re offered something back of value?

“Leor, you’re tired, it’s late… go to bed.” Would a Google Assistant alert in my browser tell me this? Would I be OK with that if it led to me getting on average an extra 30 minutes of sleep?

If Amazon told me to hold off on a few purchase, could I trust it more when it did offer me a recommendation?

The information these systems collect on us now pales in comparison to what will be available to them in the next 5 years. We need to keep asking what we’re getting from the data that is being use to sell us things.

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