The privacy debate and the future of AI

Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence—where will they be without easy access to data and the permission to use them for some purpose different from the purpose they were collected for?

The privacy debate and the future of AI - CIO&Leader

Let’s assume for a moment that the regulators worldwide are successful in putting the curbs on usage of personal data of individuals for means other than what they are collected for—something that each piece of privacy regulation tries to restrict.

Will some of today’s business models still be sustainable? Would Facebook have become Facebook as we know it today, if these curbs were there earlier? You do not have to be a genius to answer that one.

We Indians do not care much about privacy. Give me a ten-rupees recharge, I will give you all my family information. Give me thirty rupees recharge; I will get for you all details of our extended families and neighbors. In such a scenario, can a piece of regulation—supported by some centralized institution—achieve what it sets out to achieve?

That is why, some ideas—however crazy they sound—are worth giving a look at. One such idea is making all data collection a commercial deal. Tathagata Satapathy, an MP from Odisha, says since we will not be able to prevent it, we should get into commercials. You want our data; pay us. That way, we can extract more from the commercial entities. The serious ones will pay up; the non-serious ones will stop doing this.

It is too simplistic an idea and the possibility of it succeeding sounds scary; yet it is not devoid of logic.

But the point I want to make is something else. If data flow is so regulated (assuming all these regulations become moderately successful), will the access to consumer data be too difficult to use it for any experimentation? Since Artificial Intelligence of today (as compared to what I studied 15 years back as a Computer Science Undergrad) is so dependent on data, will some of the big promises hold true?

Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence—where will they be without easy access to data and the permission to use them for some purpose different from the purpose they were collected for? Will the business models still be feasible?

Read the CIO&Leader January 2019 Issue


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