Physically you are free.
Digitally you are not.
Is the most interesting thing I have written in a very long time.
But it’ s also the most terrifying.
We are all Digital slaves.
Children if you have them.
Privacy is the biggest challenge we face today, even more so in the future. It’s so difficult because the problem is not physically apparent. How can something be true that we don’t feel or see, nor does it require us to expend any effort or energy? Simply put, other people or corporations owning any part of our digital identity leads to exploitation of our privacy and attention.
We don’t own our virtual identities, other things or people do.
We don’t profit from our personal data, other things or people do.
We are subjugated, exploited and put to work by Multi-Billion dollar enterprises who profit from our participation, attention, and privacy.
Does that sound fair to you?
Attention economy conglomerates leverage this to enrich themselves while we are exploited but because we don’t feel it we haven’t yet revolted against it.
It’s something we are becoming intrinsically aware of — increasingly so — but for convenience, we agree to free products and services in return for being taken advantage of. We can’t see the value of our participation which makes it impossible for us to judge what we are giving up. Data’s value is the most difficult thing in the world for us to measure because much of it will come from things that are currently impossible or that have not been imagined.
Until we recognize the problem we can’t even begin to start changing it.
It should be considered a form of servitude, where our attention, data, and privacy enrich others. We are indentured to these services. Sure we can leave, but almost universally our data remains. We have contributed so much to the platform it becomes impossible to withdraw and the sunk cost fallacy keeps us hanging on. We see the stories of data leeks, we’ve experienced the rise in the value of these massive platforms, but what is our reward? Destruction and loss of privacy on a scale hitherto unimaginable in human history.
Looking back 30 years from now Web 2.0 will not be recalled fondly. I expect our grandchildren will question us with contempt ‘you let companies own and control your personal data without any oversight of what it was used for or the implication of that?’. Precisely — and we did nothing about it.
Who owns you?
We need to own both our digital and physical selves.
As the boundary between the two continues to blur the problems caused will become increasingly apparent. Those who don’t own both their physical and digital selves are slaves to the master who owns them.
The gatekeepers who put our digital selves to work and reap all the profit
This is an incredibly precarious situation to find ourselves in. Our ability to control and influence proceedings is enabled by regulation that either helps or hinders. Do you want to be a digital slave? The answer is no if you recognize that you are but you have no feeling about it until you do.
There are few answers currently.
The infrastructure to reclaim, own and control our digital identities does not currently exist. There is no easy way to reach out and take back power and influence.
This is the situation we find ourselves in, right now we are forced to choose free services, and massive exploitation of who and what we are, or none at all. Without the rise of technology to turn the tables this is something that we will continue to experience as create a larger digital footprint every single day.
The future is private.
It’s just not very evenly distributed yet.
There are major challenges that we must overcome
- how can we own and control our digital assets while maintaining access to the services we want and need?
- how can we give access while maintaining full transparency of what our attention and personal data are being used for?
The danger is that people simply become batteries where data attention and privacy power the economic machine. They are already the currency that lines the pockets of other people online but we have not yet reached a point where this is likely to be fatal.
Or have we?
Technology must emerge far more quickly. Today we create such a huge volume of data that it becomes harder every day for us to reclaim the information that exists within innumerable silos across the internet. Our mission is to acquire this data as quickly as possible before it’s too late.
This has to work without making it difficult for people to use.
It must happen like magic where those people sign up, connect their email, social media and bank accounts and the service automatically begins acquiring it. It needs to be that easy.
It remains to be seen whether this can work but AI and ML are at a place that it is at least a possibility. We need to do this as quickly as possible before the attention economy conglomerates mentioned previously have more information about us than we can ever acquire.
That potentially has already occurred. Digital slavery is almost inevitable at this point and that is what we already are for Google, Facebook, and others.
How can we change this?
A digital asset bank where all this information is yours — you become the only person in the world who owns their holistic virtual identity and you can use it to unlock value that was previously impossible.