Storing Personal digital records; A blessing or a curse

Storing personal digital records in decentralized networks by the help of smart contracts

Somayyeh Gholami
Jul 15 · 7 min read

Recently we see the launch of different decentralized networks. The decentralized networks do not have the main server and work peer to peer. Meanwhile, we know that in a centralized social network such as Facebook, the big companies hold the title to the main servers which store the users’ digital records and exploit or potentially exploit this information. But this is different for a decentralized social network because the digital records of personal behavior don’t save anywhere, and abuse is also excluded. For this reason, this feature commonly referred to as an advantage of the decentralized social network, but in this article, we will show that this approach only serves to gloss over the issue, and should not continue to turn a blind eye to such valuable information forever. In other words, we hope that with the help of smart contracts and artificial intelligence, users will soon be able to use and manage their own digital records in decentralized networks without the involvement of big companies.

The authors of this article are Somayyeh Gholami and Mehran Kazeminia. It’s published in English and Farsi In July 2019.

Persian Article

The importance of digital records

After World War II, Oil had an important role to play in the industrial section progress. Every day, the various industries and vehicles demands for oil have been increasing directly and indirectly, and oil was called black gold. Many countries that owned oil reserves were long unaware of the importance and value of oil and had conceded the right to explore and exploit their reserves at the lowest prices. The people and governments of these countries usually referred to oil as black, smelly, and worthless substance, which easily burns. But when they gradually realized the importance and real value of oil, they increased the price of oil sales, and even in many cases they canceled the previous agreements and considered them cruel.

From different angles, the digital records of individual behavior are like oil and even given the title of digital gold. Until twenty years ago, it was just conceivable for a few people to earn billions of dollars through collecting and storing insignificant information (in the form of digital records of individual behavior). Some have moved forward step by step in this direction, and their achievements were billion-dollar companies for themselves, which also have increased prosperity in the lives of the people of the world.

Companies like Facebook and Google have earned $ billions from online advertising. The initiative, creativity, and innovation of their managers and teams were the most important factor in such successes. Of course, the feed and fuel of this process are the online trackings of web users or digital records of individual behavior which are gradually and constantly collected and stored by these companies. In other words, in many cases, there were no today’s successes without accessing and using digital records of individual behavior. Let’s remind that the use of artificial intelligence is based only on information and details.


How are digital records of human behavior used?

Many efforts have been made to predict the private traits and attributes of individuals through access to their digital records. There are also numerous research papers and articles on this subject. For example, in 2012, in the PNAS article, by using a statistical sample of fifty eight thousand, demonstrated that digital records accessible of Facebook can predict automatically and accurately a wide range of personal characteristics, such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political perspectives, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender. Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 was in this context, and you probably remember, in 2018, the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who gave testimony to Senate committees about Facebook’s data privacy practices in the wake of the company’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal

Other efforts have been made for transparency, such as Data Selfie, which is an extension of the Chrome browser, to help people figure out how much Facebook knows about them. By downloading Data Selfie, this software tracks people’s activity just like Facebook but the goal of Data Selfie is to show how much users’ information is traceable without being informed them.

It’s quite clear that companies like Facebook, Google, and … by collecting more and more users’ information, they will earn more. On the contrary, if we are optimistic and do not conceive of any further misuse in the future, Maybe these circumstances are not bad for users. For example, users can more easily find their favorite books or other similar items.


What is the necessity for storing personal digital records?

Now, the digital records of individual behavior of users in the decentralized network aren’t saved anywhere, and in centralized networks, users have no access to manage it and practically, there is no way to personal utilization of this available information. For example, people can never modify their information or develop and integrate it, or they cannot provide this information to other advertising companies, or their counselor or psychiatrist. Meanwhile, storing, processing and analyzing such information with the help of artificial intelligence can have other achievements in personal form, but for the time being, everything is in possession and monopoly of the companies who collect and process this information. But it is not fair and rational because people of the society with no access to their own data have only the too much-limited share of these achievements.

Meanwhile, if a specific mechanism enables each person to collect her/his digital records throughout her/his life and manage its data, it would be a great treasure for everyone. At the same time, by using artificial intelligence and personal bots, more achievements can be gained for society. In this case, bots and crawlers of Google, Facebook or other companies would be replaced by personal bots or at least forced to collaborate and work with personal bots.

It’s said that only by considering 10 Likes on Facebook, It can predict personality and behavior of individual better than their colleagues, 70 Likes better than neighbors, 150 Likes better than parents, and 300 Likes even better than a spouse. Let’s imagine by using the highest achievements of artificial intelligence how the personal robot could be useful and close to humans which reach all digital records of an individual throughout his/her life. These robots identify personality traits deeply and with a wealth of accurate information, can serve people.

Perhaps the ambiguity is that we know Facebook, Google and others do not recognize their users and store users’ digital records to help to know them more. But why should individual keep their own digital records when they can express their own opinions, tastes, and needs about any subject?

First of all, people are not precise in describing themselves and their taste, and they can not convey everything in detail to the machine. Secondly, human memory is very limited. For example, digital records can save all the Internet addresses that a person visited during life with details such as the visit duration, but the memory of people does not have such the power to do so. Thirdly, artificial intelligence needs widespread databases and details for making the right decision. As much as information and details grow, the performance of artificial intelligence increased. The remarkable growth and development of artificial intelligence in recent years has directly impacted by the rise of databases and details.

That’s why Facebook does not need a special questionnaire to choose an advertisement or similar subject to show for a specific user, already knows a user what might be looking for. Of course, the digital records of personal behavior is the fuel for Artificial intelligence of Facebook. Most of the time, the questionnaire for each subject is very massive and certainly not feasible.


Utilization of smart contracts to store digital records

The decentralized networks will soon have a significant share of the Internet and, of course, in the absence of the central main server, the digital records of individual’s behavior are not stored in these networks. But as you might have noticed, this information is the essential fuel of Artificial intelligence and the storage of them can’t simply be ignored. If there is any concern about misuse, ignoring the issue is not the solution, but rather the mechanism for storing and processing digital records of individuals in decentralized networks must be completely personal. In this way, it is practically prevented from potential misuse of companies while users themselves must be able to decide for their own digital records. It is fair and rational that users possess and manage this information in decentralized networks (and even centralized networks).

Fortunately, the concept of smart contracts can be the solution to the problem. In this way, all the necessary information is automatically sent to one or more personal smart contracts which automatically store encrypted data for the use of personal robots. We’ve already done a similar thing in Smart Blockchain, and finally, in this technology, smart contracts have replaced miners and block producers.

Anyway, certainly, the possible abuse of individual digital record must be prevented with the help of smart contracts or any other method in decentralized networks. Meanwhile, the mechanism of storing individual digital records in centralized networks is different and possibly easier. Because, there’s some kind of experience about it, and big companies like Google and Facebook take advantage of doing it for years.

Somayyeh Gholami
Mehran Kazeminia


Somayyeh Gholami

Written by

Founder of Soliset, Tech researcher, Computer software engineer, Web & Blockchain developer, passionate about technology and art https://www.soliset.com

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