Personal Data as an Asset

There is a well worn axiom in business that ‘data should be treated as a corporate asset’.  This is, of course, very true and the advances in data science and ‘big data’ are giving the potential for that data to become even more valuable.

This got me thinking about how personal data should be thought about in the same way.  Think about all the data generated from what you watch, what you listen to, where you visit, what you review, data from wearables, etc.  All of this data is consumed and analyzed by 3rd parties currently, but what if individuals were able to take control of, what is, after all, their data.

Would this give rise to data science companies marketing algorithms directly to consumers (much like pharmaceutical companies market drugs directly)?  Could it also give rise to the equivalent ‘data quackery’ similar to the natural supplements and homeopathic industry?  That is, junk algorithms that, at their most benign, do no harm and at their worst incent you to dangerous courses of action?

Would there also be a new industry for ‘personal data scientists’ (like financial councilors or tax advisers) that would help you assess all of the data assets you have and how to best combine or leverage them with third parties to your best benefit (and not just the benefit of 3rd parties)?  Wouldn’t it be great to have some control over the hundreds of arbitrage-like transactions that go on behind the scenes when you are waiting for a page to load on a commercial web site via browser setting that allow you to control what information about you gets shared (and with companies).

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