“In a world of digital dignity, each individual will be the commercial owner of any data that can be measured from that person’s state or behavior,” writes Jaron Lanier in his relatively recent book Who Owns the Future (Simon & Schuster, 2013).
Companies like Google — and we’ve discussed them to death over the last months: here, here, and here, but mostly about wearable technology — are getting rich off of our personal data. I call search terms personal because, frankly, we are often more honest with our browser search engines that we are with our spouse (maybe even ourselves, or perhaps including ourselves).
The simplicity of the idea — to get paid, in effect, to allow one’s self to be spied-on — is what I like most about it. The typical “oh, but when we spy on you we can give you better search outcomes” or “we can customize searching for you in exchange for your data” is just not enough. Google is making cash-money with my data, so, like with my credit cards, I want 1% back!
Lanier’s ideas don’t just describe the present, they may very well become blueprints for the future, thus, while they are not currently true, I think they will become true over time.