What’s the commodity of power in the 21st Century? Your data.

Commentary on advancing technology and its impact on work and life is everywhere. There’s so much that it’s becoming tedious! However, as the Badger awoke from a night’s sleep recently, a radio interview with Yuval Noah Harari grabbed the attention. It was one of those radio items that you’re not really listening to, until something’s said that triggers mental faculties to speed up the journey from slumber to consciousness.

The interview had facets that resonated with apprehensions about the power of FAANGs (see here). It triggered a stream of Badger thinking that couldn’t be shaken off and culminated in the stark appreciation that the commodity of power this century isn’t gold, cash, natural resources, size of military forces, or nuclear bombs…it’s our data. Hardly a revelation, but it’s sobering to think of it in these simple terms.

Just think about how much of your data – personal info, comments, photos, videos, what you buy, what you browse, who your friends are, who you communicate with, what publications you read etc – is captured when you use today’s technology. Just think about what mega-corporations like FAANGs can tell about you, your family, your life, your habits, your interests, and your political allegiances by analysing your use of their services and the data you provide. With biotechnology and advancing personalised medicine, it’s not irrational to think that the mega-corporations will ultimately have your DNA too! History suggests it would be prudent to harbour some anxiety about mega-corporations wielding this century’s commodity of power to manipulate people to achieve whatever outcomes suit corporate interests.

Is this just paranoia? May be, but that’s for each of us to decide. So, is there anything you can do to help minimise the potential for being manipulated? Yes…think before you provide! Don’t shirk from taking personal responsibility for what you provide, share or exchange on any platform. Parents should not shirk from educating their children about online privacy awareness, using social media and modern technology sensibly, and the need to ‘think about consequences’ when sharing or exchanging data.

Finally, the Badger has a question. Do you just glibly accept the meaty ‘cookies’ pop-ups on websites since the advent of GDPR? Chances are you do – and you shouldn’t! Have a look at the alternative links in the pop up which often take you to the detail and settings of what you’re agreeing to, including the companies you agree can process data. You may be surprised at what you find. Whatever you decide to do next is your choice, but make the choice knowing you will be influencing this century’s commodity of power… your data.

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