Super-reflective Data: Speculative Imaginings of a World Where Data Works for People

03/10/2020
by   Max Van Kleek, et al.
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It's the year 2020, and every space and place on- and off-line has been augmented with digital things that observe, record, transmit, and compute, for the purposes of recording endless data traces of what is happening in the world. Individually, these things (and the invisible services the power them) have reached considerable sophistication in their ability to analyse and dissect such observations, turning streams of audio and video into informative data fragments. Yet somehow, individuals as end-users of platforms and services have not seen the full potential of such data. In this speculative paper, we propose two hypothetical mini scenarios different from our current digital world. In the former, instead of hoarding it, data controllers turn captured data over to those who need it as quickly as possible, working together to combine, validate, and refine it for maximum usefulness. This simultaneously addresses the data fragmentation and privacy problem, by handing over long-term data governance to those that value it the most In the latter, we discuss ethical dilemmas using the long-term use of such rich data and its tendency to cause people to relentlessly optimise.

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