The crucial question of the digital age is not so much about privacy but about autonomous access to data. Let us build a free digital future based on the universal human rights! For this we need something big. Really big. The Global Church of Data.
The Global Church of Data is a non-governmental, non-commercial organization which fulfills basically three functions:
1. It has the entirety of data at its disposal — the same data that states and commercial providers have in addition to the data generated by individuals themselves. It guarantees storage and universal/autonomous/individual access to this data.
Consider an example: What is the difference between having an alibi and not having an alibi? Reliable data. There is a vast imbalance of power in that only states have access to this data. This imbalance is a threat to the rule of law.
Well, some of you might point out that this won’t matter so much in the future because it’s easy to go ahead and check who did it in the first place and therefore skip police work and prosecution altogether. Ultimately, an algorithm will pass the verdict, anyway.
Be that as it may. If we do not want the concept of Universal Human Rights to loose its meaning altogether we need autonomous access to data. Period.
2. The Global Church of Data conducts independent research based on the entire dataset in accordance with ethical standards. (Yes, looking at everything without any restriction or secrets.)
We probably cannot even imagine the amount and quality of knowledge that we as human beings, as society, as culture will gain in the future by exploring our data. Facebook employs sociologists, countries buy specialized software to predict criminal activity and uprisings using models coming out of sociophysics. In comparison: What can independent scientists do today? Nothing (or close to nothing). Maybe some public data is available to them but still vastly inferior to what is at the disposal of companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google or even more worrying states, law enforcement and the secret services.
Therefore, a free society needs free research and science. This is possible only if access to the research subject is also free. Today we live in a world where scientist are locked up in a small room and everyone else can play and jump around in the great wide open.
3. The Global Church of Data develops a philosophy and ethics of the digital realm. Maybe this will seem more like a religion at first, rather than a philosophy. We will have to deal within questions in fields where no empirical data might (yet) be available. (This is where the religious comparison comes in, not because we would want to adore some ghost-like figure. Nope, we certainly don´t.) This will force us to build arguments on transparent assumptions rather than hard facts. Therefore, it is the most important task to promote and structure this process as well as to eventually create the necessary institutions. Every society regulates itself by law and political discourse. Both, law and political discourse need institutions.
We need a Global Church of Data! Join us now by entering the conversation. Actually we have no idea how to found a Global Church of Data, but we are sure as hell that we need it. So please help us with your ideas, support us with your organizations and most importantly: Let others know about the Global Church of Data!