A long time ago we used sticks and stones and fire to make the world work for us. There was value in those skills and strengths. And those skills and strengths were strengthened more through community, specialization, trade. And specialize we did. Very well I might add.
In fact, we’re so specialized today, as a species, we’re on the verge of bridging the divide between humanity and machines with AI. We should marvel at the consuming-services-machine-overlord world we are about to create. It’s a brave new world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Professor Galloway’s presentation on the Four Horseman and how basically Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook are the new noble lords of the land. Aside from these Four Horseman catering to our innate curiosity, need to be social while surrounded by shiny new things, we’re also giving them more than just our time, money, and likes. We are creating massive amounts of data. Data which is being fed into the machines to learn even more about us — to sell us even more stuff.
It’s interesting to me that Google and Facebook, at their core, are simply useful advertising platforms. Amazon too — their ad network is getting bigger by the day.
So, if you think about it for a second, we’ve given most of our data to advertisers.
Banks and Healthcare on the only other two sectors in our economy, that I can think of, where we see this much data concentration among a handful of players, along with the implied trust that comes with it.
Healthcare is moving in this direction, but not fast enough it seems some days. IBM’s Watson interests me in this field, but it seems the drug companies are too busy selling you their new and improved time-release opium to really care about anything but their next quarterly report. I digress.
In all of this I’m left pondering what we’ve become as a collective body of humans, maybe mindlessly — maybe it’s a connected world shift that’s occurred and we don’t fully appreciate the magnitude of it yet; in the collective effort to move us forward as a species, we’ve simply sold out to Madison Avenue — monetizing our behaviors and biases. And we’re funding the machines getting smarter to do just that. We’ve given the building blocks by entrusting them and handing over a very valuable commodity, our data.
It’s almost seamless anymore. We visit the online store (and coming soon to the real world store via the upcoming AR platforms). You know what happens, right? Leave the store and see nothing but those shirts or yoga pants we perused following us around the internet for the next week and (smartly) over the course of the next month. Car shopping? It’s freaky.
Aside from control of this process, which of course is valuable. It’s really us, the users… that’s the most valuable — to the machines we direct. It’s our data; behaviorally analyzed and optimized to get you do buy, try, or use whatever we (they) want.
So, naturally, with that data, we should also consider the value of trust.
And that’s where I’m concerned, friend. There are not that many places that are core parts of our economy where this data is so concentrated.
Of course the CIA, our government — thanks to the Patriot Act and our very
compliant patriotic companies helping build the database, you are now a google search at Langley. Don’t worry, they will only look you up if you matter. Let’s just agree this isn’t a bad thing for a minute.
So, the government knows what you do, if they want. Maybe before you do something evil, but definitely after — if they want.
Hackers of course… and there will be some shift to establishing in how we identify ourselves aside from Social Security numbers that’ll be more 2.0 for sure, in the not so far future — thanks to Equifax. But there are always going to be assholes… so let’s just walk by them.
Then there’s the corporate sector of the economy. Like I said — Amazon. Apple. Google. Facebook. They own you, and me. They know where I am for every minute, with who, how long, how often. They know when a picture of me is posted on their site by someone else. They know if I’m a fan of Nickelback or Lithium batteries. They know if I google How to Rob a Bank.
I see this not as a problem, but an opportunity to look differently at how we as a society manage to fight off the insatiable desire to sell you more stuff. It’s in the banking industry.
Infamous bank robber, Willie Sutton, once answered that he robbed banks — because that’s where the money is.
And right now, the banks are realizing it’s a future that might not include some of them with the likes of Bitcoin and The Full Reset Morgan Housel talks about. We just went through similar in 2008 and that shocked people to the core. This next generation is not going to settle.
It’s their fault, of course, the banks. How long do you trust a person who keeps figuring out ways to take your money to hold and invest for you that uses the data to figure out where they can screw you next? Scandal after scandal.
Money Laundering. Fictitious Accounts. Rate fixing schemes. Fees and products designed to screw the poor and uninformed. You could almost even imagine they use the data to run a statistical analysis on their probable next fine vs. the outsized revenue of their next impropriety.
Now, to be clear, I don’t care that they know what they know — sometimes I do buy that shirt. But, I do think there’s an opportunity inside of our consumer-oriented appetite for data. Sadly the banks aren’t getting it — and they won’t — because they’re too busy selling you stuff without any real regard for your well-being.
To me, the answer is simple — a data warehouse tied to a fiduciary standard; seems fairly obvious. And that’s happening… Data aggregation is another linchpin to the coming financial revolution, allowing everyone else to use that data for the better.
And the revolution in banking….that’s one of the big missing elements if we’re going make this brave new new world truly better for our citizens. Data protected, used, and cared for by using the fiduciary standard. Your data used to help make you better informed, wealthier and happier, making smarter decisions — instead of stuffing envelopes full of “exclusive” offers to everyone who’s dumb enough to open them. Imagine that.
What do you think?