News Response #5

An article in the New York Times discussed something very similar to that which we discussed in class- the gathering of our data by online entities, particularly social media sites and search engines. It specifically discussed the transaction of money between the site and the user whose data is being collected, but in the opposite direction of that which we discussed in class. The article questioned whether we, as consumers, should be compensated by companies for the data, posts, and information that we produced, while we in class questioned whether we should pay for the privatization of our data. Both cases, however, have the same underpinning question: how much is data worth, and to who?

In the case of the Times article, the author is looking at the question through the lens of the company. The data that consumers produce is of worth to companies: it is used not only to target ads and increase profit, but to train the artificial intelligences that run the sites in other things, like translation and the ability to replace human workers in jobs. Thus, because our data is of use to the company, we should be compensated for that data.

On the other hand, in class, we talked about data through the lens of the computer. Currently, we assume that our data is the price to pay for the use of those social networks and search engines. Our data, through that lens, only has worth as a form of payment, and thus can be replaced with money.

The question, then, becomes: is our data worth more to companies or to ourselves? I, personally, think it is of more worth to companies. If my data is kept private, I don’t have any more monetary or social gain than if my data is available for company use. However, if I withhold my data from companies, then they are unable to target ads to increase money flow, or use it to train artificial intelligence in any way.