I live on the edge of technology for a couple of reasons. One, it is my job, and two; I love it. It started when I stuck my finger in a light socket when I was about seven, picked myself up off the floor and did it again to try to figure out what it was – same result. Well, at least I did not do it a third time. But my hair has never been the same.
A couple of years later, I started taking apart our refrigerator, toaster, even our TV (luckily, my parents saw it as creative, rather than destructive, even though they had to pay to undo my “curiosity”). I have been on a roll ever since, and I can say, with some degree of certainty, I get technology.
I prefaced this column with the above because I get the driven metrics behind companies to know what the individual is all about; what they want, what they are doing, and how to get them to buy, buy, buy. Companies have become rabid in their drive to acquire targeted data and use it to improve their bottom line. Platforms such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the vortex it creates — machine intelligence — have them salivating at the possibilities of defining you down to the length of your hair!
If one thinks the all-seeing, all-knowing data-sucking vortex is already omnipresent, just wait. The schemes companies are developing to log and capture every moment of your life are approaching Mach speeds.
Here are a couple of the latest entrants. One is Moviepass. Moviepass has come up with the brilliant idea of selling a $10.00 monthly, all you can digest, movie pass. It sounds too good to be true so of course there is a significant amount of controversy around this program, most of it is that the theater cannot make money. However, the financial model’s success or failure is not the real issue here; it is data – your data.
In exchange for that super movie going deal, the Moviepass app tracks just about everything you do using your smartphone’s location capability. Recently, there was a flap over just how much data Moviepass acquires. That was due to some bad press about continuously tracking the user. Recently it has added some user tracking options, and it removed the continuous tracking feature from its iOS app.
It appears that selling movie tickets is just your standard the loss-leader marketing model, and data mining and peddling is the real goal and moneymaker. To wit, they sold a majority ownership stake to data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics for $27 million last summer.
Another such development is Amazon’s interest in becoming a bank. While it seems like it would be a benign, vertical expansion for Amazon, the fact is that if Amazon becomes your bank, it now has access to everything that runs through the account; Amazon purchases and otherwise. Therefore, Amazon now not only has one’s Amazon buying habits, but just about everything one purchases. And you thought Amazon was simply attempting to make your life more convenient.
The details about this are still a bit sketchy, even if Amazon follows through with it. Nevertheless, the idea circles back to the same maniacal drive to obtain data about every buying habit and pattern of the end user and use, or sell, such data for target marketing.
These are but some of the latest schemes to snag your data. Expect every company that has something to sell, to jump on the bandwagon. Big data and AI will certainly create a new world order of analyzing the habits of the consumer and develop a new ecosystem of target marketing.
Is it good, bad, irrelevant? Hard to tell. Personally, I do not like being tracked. Yet there is a certain amount of convenience in going to the grocery store with a list that is who and what you are. The same for clothes, or sports or activities, movies and music. I must confess that Pandora does come up with some good new music based upon my listening habits. The same with Netflix’s suggestions of movies.
However, there is always the dark side. Having a virtual copy of your life is a gold mine for the malfeasants. The more complete one’s virtual life is, the easier it is for them to use that data for nefarious activities.
This big data/AI marriage is still in its infancy. It is a learning process. I just hope the maturation of this vector does not come at the expense of the user.
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. Ernest’s client list has included Lucent Technologies, Jones Intercable, Qwest, City and County of Denver, TCI, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and other businesses. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner, and a life member of the IEEE. He has been certified as an IBM Certified OS2 consultant and trainer; WordPerfect Corporation Developer/Consultant and Lotus Development Corporation Developer/Consultant. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio.