Here's what it will take for AI and privacy to co-exist


As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning become more mainstream, businesses and governments are increasingly adopting these new technologies to understand their clients and find new ways to deliver products and services.

In a blog post from US think tank The RAND Corporation they note that we are all surrounded by AI, constantly observing our habits, timing our comings and goings, noting our tastes.

It provides the example of Netflix, which recommends movies you might like based on your viewing habits. Or how, without asking, your iPhone can tell you how long it will take you to get to the gym — because you often go at about that time.

Smart devices know our needs because they are good at recognising patterns, and human beings are creatures of routine.

Advertisers want data that will tell them when you’re moving through a major life change, such as a pregnancy, marriage, divorce, or buying a new home, because events like this make you vulnerable to a marketing pitch. Amazon is one company that has become very adept at using data to recognise our buying patterns and to then suggest products and re-orders.

The RAND blog notes that data can also be used for social good. They cite the example of the use of social media data to map influenza outbreaks as a public-health good accomplished through data collection.

Following recent data breaches in the media, businesses should be aware of the concerns around privacy and data protection when it comes to the development of AI and machine learning.

While such issues can act as a drag on the development of the technology, it’s also important to remember that are positive trends and developments in AI and machine learning too, and questions of privacy can be managed by keeping technology transparent.

It is important that businesses are able to explain what they are doing with the data they collect and how the technology works.

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