Will unifying personal data systems turn us into robots? | PDD

Will unifying personal data systems turn us into robots?


on July 23 2012

I was just talking recruitment screeners with my colleague Alex Crook, another researcher. Our casual conversation around how specific we could get with a recruitment screener for a research project got me thinking about large-scale data, and how scary ‘life monitoring’ and data gathering could get in the future.

Loyalty cards have always left me feeling cold. Trading off personal information (my shopping habits are personal!) for a few pennies off here and there just doesn’t seem to measure up. Everywhere I go it’s ‘do you have a Clubcard/Advantage Card/Beauty Card/Nectar?’ etc. etc. etc. And no, I don’t. Well, apart from for the necessary evil that is petrol. On refusing to be involved in loyalty schemes, retail assistants are aghast that I don’t want free stuff. Every so often I even have to go so far as to pull out an ‘I’m exempt because I work in market research’ which is a great silencer if you’re interested.

As I don’t work in retail I never really knew where all that information went, and what it does. Are terabytes upon terabytes of data clogging up Clubcard HQ? Now we’re becoming so monitoring focused it feels like all parts of our lives are being recorded. Some say CCTV is invasive, but will be more than happy to share their blood pressure and beats-per-minute rate with partner apps.

So at what point will every iota be recorded? And, how will this data be unified? Market research recruiters would have a field day (apologies for the market research pun) recording to the finest detail, purchase, breath, change, feeling or mood in a spread sheet that they could filter to send the correct respondents to the correct research sessions.

In a way this is great. It could make things so handy, quick and easy. But on the other hand how far would this evolve before we really are just personality-void walking drones? Just a little food for thought for all those spread sheet fans out there!