Data Asymmetry

Below is a quote on “data asymmetry” from this report (p.58):

“A key ethical dilemma regarding personal information is data asymmetry. Our personal information fundamentally informs the systems driving modern society but our data is more of an asset to others than it is to us. The artificial intelligence and autonomous systems (AI/AS) driving the algorithmic economy have widespread access to our data, yet we remain isolated from gains we could obtain from the insights derived from our lives. To address this asymmetry there is a fundamental need for people to define, access, and manage their personal data as curators of their unique identity.”

What does this matter to you? The simple fact is that right now, someone else is making better use of your data than you are.

So, what can you do about it?

It’s easy to dismiss this as an “ethical issue” that is beyond your personal control, but there’s actually a great deal that you can do right now to personally address the asymmetry, take some control back and tap into the “algorithmic economy”.

Be more aware.

You can start by being more aware of data and how you “define, access and manage” it. As I discussed in a previous article an easy shorthand for starting to understand these things better is to look at data and your interface. Data like information, news and knowledge, but also personal data in terms of security, identity and privacy. Understand the implications of your data choices. You have control, but it requires understanding of the things that you use like apps, devices, etc.

Work with the technology, not against it.

Understand how things work. There are powerful tools out there that can augment both work and play. Are you fully aware of the potential? An understandable reaction to data asymmetry is to hide your data and retreat from technology, but the tools can work for you as well. Make use of them. Introduce them into your workflow and consider how you can optimise the way that you access and produce data, or collaborate with others.

Get started.

It’s easier to talk about making changes than actually taking action. Start with something simple and go from there. There’s amazing things being done with your data, so isn’t it time you took advantage of it?