Saturday, July 25, 2020

Data Anonymization and the Internet of Things

Another problem with Jeremy Rifkin's argument in The Zero Marginal Cost Society is the scarce attention he pays to the implications of massive data sets generated in the Internet of Things (IoT) era. If data is anonymized or aggregated only, then there are nothing but positives from having every item equipped with an RF transmitter and connected to the Web. But in the world we actually inhabit, data is identifiable. I don't want slippers that tell Google how much time I spend without shoes on. I don't want a pill dispenser that tells Amazon what medications it contains. (Those are just two hypothetical examples from my home-bound drugged-up life.)

Our data can make our lives more efficient, but all it's currently doing is making us more lucrative customers. I'm not going to allow Walmart's marketing arm to monitor how I use every item so they can get me to spend more money at Walmart. The Internet of Things isn't going to get off the ground if 3D printing is held hostage by refrigerators with DRM filters.

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