by Nicholas West
– Predictive technology is exploding, in stealth, across the virtual landscape. The arrival of Big Data initiatives by government, as well as a massive industry of data brokers is not only putting privacy at risk, but is offering those with access to the information unprecedented ways to manage the lives of everyday citizens.
Until this point, it has been a very tech-heavy subject inclined to produce glazed eyes when addressed. However, the viral story of Facebook using their algorithms to go beyond surveillance and actually manipulate the emotions of users as a type of psychology experiment has thrust these practices into the mainstream.
Certainly this experiment being conducted without the knowledge or consent of those involved is a huge breach of privacy and ethics. However, when it comes to policing and health, things really are turning Orwellian as thought “crimes” are now detectable with predictive technology.
The emergence of predictive policing and predictive healthcare has a single benefit that the Facebook example does not: the PR push that their tools are making people safer. Thus, the notion of Minority Report-style pre-crime has become a reality in both Illinois and California with no where near the pushback that is being expressed toward Facebook.
Concurrently, the medical field is merging with an array of wearable gadgetry that is flooding the consumer marketplace with millions of sensors to track vital signs in real time. Through the promise of both personal health attainment and medical threat alerts, people are embracing this tech in droves.
Or how about a new mental health smartphone app being developed in Israel?