‘Why Privacy Matters’, presented at TED Global (June 2013). Alessandro Acquisti explains the state of Internet privacy in a provocative, sometimes humorous, sometimes uncomfortable presentation. He describes how social media combined with Big Data research and analysis has blurred the lines of our concept of privacy on the Internet.
Starting with an anonymous face, facial recognition technology is good and getting better. The field is developed to the point of being able to identify and find public and private personal data. In fact, starting only with a photo of someone's face, researchers are able to identify the person in the photograph. Using public data and information from Social Media, A few minutes after that, these scientists are able to match that face with the Social Security number over 25% of the time.
He also shared uncomfortable research about marketing using Social Media. Using public Facebook data, researchers have discovered how to determine the identities of anyone's two best Facebook friends. Next, they combined the friend’s pictures into a composite image. Presumably, if this composite was shown to the original person, he/she will be more likely to have a favorable impression of any product or idea the composite photo is associated with. Additionally, the original person is not able to recognize their friend's features in the composite image.
Alessandro alerts us that the fight for Internet privacy is on, but many aren’t aware of it yet. He talked about Huxley’s classic book ‘Brave New World’. The book looks at a future world where the technology meant to free us actually enslaved us. Huxley believed technology might end up as a tyrannical state. He also though there is a better outcome possible.
Mr. Acquisti believes the future of online privacy can work out in our favor. We only need two things and we each have them both. (Sorry… Not going to be a spoiler here. You’ll have to watch the talk to find out what they are.)
This is an important talk to watch because when we’re aware of what's on the horizon, we’ll be better prepared to deal with the ramifications of big data and our Internet privacy (or lack of it).
Here’s the direct link to the Alessandro Acquisti Ted talk ‘Why Privacy Matters’. A written transcript is available there. http://www.ted.com/talks/alessandro_acquisti_why_privacy_matters.html