Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Information Efficiency vs. the Boogyman

I hate when writers use the boogyman to scare people.  Michael Carney does just that with his article on personal data, "You Are Your Data: the Scary Future of the Quantified Self Movement".

I don't negate the fact that a small minority will "do evil" with the growing exposure of personal data.  My point is that someone of Michael's stature and position should not focus on what will undoubtedly be a small faction, at the expense of the larger, more bountiful majority.  The quantified self (and an exponentially increasing other sets of data) are and will continue to deliver value, much of which we are only beginning to see.

From Michael,
For those of us who don’t measure up compared to the rest of the population, the outcome won’t be pretty.
But what about those that are unnecessarily penalized, given today's information inefficiencies?  The truth is that the industries he cites become more efficient with more (personal) data.  Insurance is at it's heart based on information - the more information available, the more effectively and efficiently risk can be priced.  The more risky clients pay more.  Market dynamics at work.

Health insurance, even home mortgages, are quantified bets given the information made available.   Yes, people will have to pay more, but others will have to pay less.

He finishes with an acknowledgement that he is not focused on the value.  Rather, he bases his argument on the need for user awareness.  I agree that privacy policies and terms of service documents need more transparency and less legalese. Using the boogyman to make the point is wrong.

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