Saturday, August 29, 2015

Can Data Mining Algorithms Extract Value from your Personal Data (and should you get a piece of the action?)

Go to  http://www.datamilk.com/survey/  to have your say.


Technology has made it easier than ever for people to collect and store a valuable trove of personal information about themselves. However, there is no readily available means by which individuals can reap a financial benefit by selling their personally generated data. Companies such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter are multi-billion dollar companies built almost entirely on user-generated data, so it’s clear that when used correct, your personal data is extremely valuable.

There is a growing unease about the disparity between the value that companies realize from personal data and the financial rewards individuals gleam from this information. Prof. Tim Wu from Columbia Law School recently argued that Facebook should pay us for our posts. Individually your data may not be worth very much. but collectibely it is a goldmine. The problem is that there is currently no way for individuals to collect and monetize their data. It’s as if we need a virtual “trade union” for data producers which collected and amalgamates your personal data on your behalf.

The question is: Would you be willing to exchange access to your personal information for financial compensation?


I have designed a simulation to test this question in practice. Go to http://www.datamilk.com/survey/and you will be presented with 20 simulated offers from fictitious companies to test your willingness to participate in a personal information market – you may be surprised by the results.

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