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The rise of the machines: What your data is being used for

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“The Terminator,” “The Matrix,” “I, Robotic.”

All of those are movies the place machines turn out to be sentient and try and take over the world (or not less than kill all people). It’s a well-liked plot line as a result of it speaks to our deep-seated fears about know-how. Will our units and the information they gather be used towards us as we transfer towards Web3?

It’s not simply Hollywood paranoia. In recent times, we’ve seen rising proof that our knowledge is being utilized in methods we by no means meant or anticipated. The Cambridge Analytica scandal confirmed how Fb knowledge was harvested and used to govern voters within the U.S. presidential election. 

Google has been fined for gathering knowledge from kids with out their mother or father’s consent. And facial recognition know-how is being utilized by regulation enforcement and companies with little regulation or oversight.


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On this article, we’ll delve into the risks of unfettered knowledge pipelines and the way blockchain know-how, significantly as we transfer in the direction of Web3, can doubtlessly cut back the opacity of the black field of algorithms.

The world runs on algorithms

We live in an age the place algorithms are more and more making selections for us. They determine what we see on social media, the adverts we’d like and who will get a mortgage and who doesn’t. 

Algorithms could be easy, just like the one which decides what order to indicate leads to a search engine. Or they are often extra complicated, like those utilized by social media firms to determine which posts to indicate us in our newsfeeds. 

A few of these algorithms are designed to be clear. We all know how Google’s search algorithm works, for instance. However many others are opaque, that means we don’t understand how they work or what knowledge they use to make selections. 

This lack of transparency is regarding for numerous causes. For one, it may possibly result in biased selections. If an algorithm is utilizing race or gender as a think about its decision-making, that bias will likely be mirrored within the outcomes. 

Second, opaque algorithms could be gamed. If we don’t understand how an algorithm works, we will’t determine easy methods to sport it. For this reason many firms preserve their algorithms secret — they don’t need folks to govern the system. 

Lastly, opaque algorithms are troublesome to carry accountable. If an algorithm makes a mistake, it may be exhausting to determine why or easy methods to repair it. This lack of accountability is especially problematic when algorithms are used for essential selections, like whether or not or not somebody will get a mortgage or a job. 

The hazards of knowledge pipelines

The issue with algorithms is that they’re solely pretty much as good as the information they’re utilizing. If the information is biased, the algorithm will likely be biased. If the information is incomplete, the algorithm will make inaccurate predictions. 

And infrequently, the information that algorithms use is much from good. It comes from a wide range of sources, together with social media, sensors, and authorities databases. This knowledge is then collected and processed by a wide range of firms earlier than it ever reaches the algorithm. 

Every step on this course of introduces potential errors and biases. Social media knowledge, for instance, is commonly unrepresentative of the inhabitants as a complete. And sensors could be inaccurate. The result’s a knowledge pipeline that’s usually opaque, biased, and troublesome to carry accountable. 

Admittedly, killer robots lean in a bit in the direction of the fantastical — however there are extra discrete methods to your knowledge to be exploited by the powers that be. So what’s your knowledge getting used for? Listed below are some prospects:

How your knowledge is used

  • To attain your political opinions and manipulate you throughout election season
  • To promote you merchandise you don’t want
  • To trace your location and actions
  • To focus on you with adverts
  • To stop you from getting a job or mortgage

These are only a few examples — the checklist goes on. And it’s not simply companies which might be doing this. Authorities companies are utilizing knowledge to trace residents, predict crime, and even combat wars. 

Briefly, knowledge is getting used to regulate and manipulate folks in a wide range of methods. And infrequently, these makes use of are hidden from the people who find themselves being affected. 

Web3 and the potential of blockchain-based knowledge markets

One potential resolution to the issues with knowledge pipelines is a blockchain-based knowledge market. In such a market, knowledge could be collected and saved on a decentralized community. 

This could have a number of benefits. For one, it will make the information pipeline extra clear. We’d know the place the information got here from and the way it was collected. Additionally, it will make the information extra reliable. If the information is saved on a decentralized community, it will be a lot more durable to govern. Any such knowledge storage might turn out to be an much more essential idea as we transfer towards Web3.

Lastly, it will make the information extra accessible. Anybody would have the ability to entry the information and use it to construct algorithms. Privateness wouldn’t be a problem as a result of the information could be anonymized and there are mechanisms to forestall misuse.

As an example,  the Ocean Protocol is a decentralized knowledge change protocol that permits knowledge sharing whereas sustaining knowledge privateness. It’s constructed on the Ethereum blockchain and makes use of good contracts to make sure that knowledge is simply shared with events who’ve permission to make use of it. 

The Ocean Protocol could possibly be used to create a knowledge market the place knowledge is collected, saved, and distributed in a clear and trustless method. This could enable knowledge for use extra effectively and will assist to resolve a few of the issues with the present knowledge pipeline.

After all, you may see how this is likely one of the best frontiers of Web3 since knowledge is the lifeblood of the brand new web.

Overcoming the challenges of blockchain-based knowledge markets

It’s essential to notice {that a} blockchain-based knowledge market will not be an ideal resolution. There are nonetheless some challenges that must be addressed. As an example, it’s not clear how knowledge could be priced in such a market. 

The blockchain neighborhood must be proactive in collaborating in and creating knowledge markets. In any other case, they run the danger of being left behind because the centralized platforms proceed to dominate.

Folks will have the ability to deal with their knowledge as an asset — however the correct infrastructure must be in place first. A technique to do that is to develop knowledge wallets that might enable folks to regulate their knowledge and obtain compensation for sharing it. 

The uPort platform — now break up into Serto and Veramo — is one instance of a knowledge pockets that’s being developed on the Ethereum blockchain. uPort permits customers to regulate their id, private data, and knowledge. It additionally allows them to share this data with others in a safe and decentralized method.

Information high quality is crucial

One other problem is knowledge high quality. In a centralized system, knowledge is managed by a single entity. Because of this the information is extra more likely to be correct and of top of the range. 

In a decentralized system, nonetheless, there isn’t any single supply of reality. Because of this the standard of knowledge can differ enormously. Information high quality is a vital challenge that must be addressed for Web3 and blockchain-based knowledge markets to achieve success.

A possible repair for the information high quality challenge is to make use of knowledge curation markets. In these markets, folks could be incentivized to offer correct and high-quality knowledge. The iGrant knowledge pockets platform is one instance of a knowledge curation market that’s being developed on the Ethereum blockchain.

These are simply a few of the challenges that must be addressed. If they are often overcome, blockchain-based knowledge markets have the potential to revolutionize the way in which that knowledge is collected, saved and distributed.

The subsequent article will cap off our Web3 collection, placing all the things we’ve talked about collectively to see the large image of how knowledge, crypto, blockchain, and Web3 will form the web — and the world — within the years to return. Keep tuned!

Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode.

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