I am always fascinated by how people see data or don't see data. Startups are definitely seeing it right now, but the average citizen seems unable to see it, care about it, let alone understand that it is actually their private data. I was reading this post about startups selling their data to hedge funds, and once again left amazed at how startups just see end users as livestock, and are a commodity for buying and selling.
I'm stunned that at the same time we are also having conversations about a segment of our population being "left behind", while in the same motion we are willfully blind to startups buying and selling our own private details like we are cattle. This is one of the reasons the tech community is so willing to ignore the bad behavior going on with what has become to be known as the surveillance economy, because there is so much money to be made by a few, harvesting and selling the data of the rest of us.
The actually number of people looking to do harm through the use of technology is fairly small, but the number of people willing to look the other way, and be compolicit in the surveillance economy is actually pretty large. If there is a buck to be made surveilling people, gathering every bit of data about them, there are endless entpresenuers willing to line up and do the work. These entrepeneurs rarely question the motives of what their buyers will do with data, or are willing to ackownledge how their technology can be used for evil, if there is money to be made at any point in the game.
The dehumanizing effects of technology, combined with the greed and blindness of capitalism leaves me worried about the future. The social bubbles we experienced in the election are just the tip of the iceberg. We will see more of these bubbles emerge, with people happy to particpate, as well as companies who are willing to exploit, and manipulate as long as they get a piece of the action when it comes to selling the data. All of this makes me sad when you consider what is contained withint this data — our most intimate thoughts, locations, images, video, and other personal and private items that are just being sold to the highest bidder on the open market.