The line between moderate data usage and data misuse is often narrow. We are at the beginning of the digital revolution based on data. Here the dangers of permanent monitoring and control collide with the advantages of brilliant technical solutions that enrich everyday life. Nobody can escape digitization in the long term and should know the opportunities and risks to shape these far-reaching developments actively – because nobody wants an Orwell scenario.
“1984” – The novel by the English writer George Orwell is seen as a warning of the consequences of totalitarian regimes and the results of state surveillance and manipulation methods. Orwell wrote this fictional work from 1946 to 1948. The ubiquitous “Thought Police” constantly monitor the entire population, and the people are visually controlled, manipulated, and monitored through the “telescreens” and microphones that cannot be switched off. Orwell was and is still often quoted, especially in Nazi Germany, the former GDR, the RTL2 show “Big Brother,” the NSA / Snowden scandal, or Trump’s leadership style.
His novel is devoted to a political and social picture, not a technical one. Cameras, telescreens, and microphones were used for the purpose, but technological progress is not called into question. However, in his book, mind control, and monitoring is only possible through technical aids. The people in Orwell’s work had no choice and could not display the screens. There is no doubt that the importance and presence of screens in our present is in no way inferior to that of Orwell’s vision for the future – but we can still switch them off at any time.
Most people can no longer imagine a life without screens – whether it’s a cell phone or TV. We know that our smartphones have a microphone, laptops have a camera, and the big US corporations analyze our data. Use is purely optional. And we are buying and using more and more devices such as voice assistants or innovative home applications.
Technical Progress – A Curse And A Blessing At The Same Time?
Technological progress makes it possible for us to exchange ideas worldwide in real-time, live out our freedom of expression almost at any time, and have unlimited access to helpful information. There is an answer for every question; for every problem, there is a solution or even the right product at the push of a button. On the other hand, we disclose our data for it. We pay with our privacy. Commenting on Orwell’s work, Snowden said, “The types of collections in the book – microphones and video cameras, televisions watching us – are nothing compared to what we have available today.” State surveillance measures, which spy on the entire population of the world, are our “world police” USA by the NSA and complete state surveillance, including the personal social account of the Chinese, long old hat. The commercial “data octopuses” such as Facebook, Google, Amazon & Co., on the other hand, divide up the data market for the future and determine it significantly.
If There Is Advertising, Then Relevant!
We all use the various services voluntarily, some even need them for our everyday lives, but we also know that it is not clear where data is used for what at the end of the day. Now some people then install ad blockers, deposit fake information everywhere, and try to strike a middle path, and thus bypass the complete disclosure of their privacy. Advertising is the price that we have free internet, and it is precisely here that all this data is used appropriately. The intention of the advertising industry to anonymously analyze data to at least display relevant products to Internet users when they have to see advertising is clear to at least the majority of users and a commendable intention that also has its economic advantages.
But when the point is that nobody knows precisely what Google and Facebook are doing with this data, it quickly becomes political. How far does the increase in efficiency and quality improvement of advertising go? If our own decisions determine our daily consumer behavior and the associated demands on the economy, who can assert themselves in the market in the long term? Isn’t it ultimately in our own hands? But what about the data and the influence on our behavior? How far is the increase in efficiency and quality improvement in advertising going?
If our own decisions determine our daily consumer behavior and the associated demands on the economy, who can assert themselves in the market in the long term? Isn’t it ultimately in our own hands? But what about the data and the influence on our behavior? How far is the increase in efficiency and quality improvement in advertising going? If our own decisions determine our daily consumer behavior and the associated demands on the economy, who can assert themselves in the market in the long term? Isn’t it ultimately in our own hands? But what about the data and the influence on our behavior?
Growth Of The Data Economy
User data is increasingly attractive for the advertising industry and the basis for new and future-oriented digital business models in all sectors. The data economy grows with digitization. A development that originated in the last century and its progress gives us thoughtful thanks to its unstoppable speed and no foreseeable end. The data market is growing faster than the German economy. According to a global data center partner digital reality study from April 2018, the data-driven added value amounts to around 196 billion euros per year. That’s supposed to be the amount that data could add to the economy. However, only 55 percent of them are currently in use.
The economic growth of about 2.2 percent is subject to that of the data economy with 10.9 percent. However, medium-sized companies, in particular, are still lagging in terms of digital strategy. But the federal government already has several funding programs for the intelligent data economy in which the economic, cultural, and structural further development of new business models is promoted, such as smart data, smart living, or ICT for electromobility.
If the economy benefits from this driving force, isn’t it in the interests of all of us? Companies in all sectors participate in this progress and outdo each other in tailoring their offerings for every individual’s wish. Last but not least, this is happening because the younger generations are already demanding this.
Companies have to adapt their products and services to the “modern” requirements and the “always online” user behavior to secure future market positions. Regardless of whether we buy a car, take out insurance, book a vacation or shop online – individual solutions will sell better in the future than watering can products that appeal to the general public. Where there used to be no extra sausage, the requested concert is now playing.
Insurance is an excellent example of this. Most insurers categorize consumers into a few risk groups and only adjust the costs. For example, a pensioner in a small town pays less for the same liability insurance than a student in a large city. The same products are offered at different tariffs. However, both presumably have entirely different requirements and needs. In the future, however, the products themselves will also change and be more individually adapted to actual conditions. In the field of motor vehicle insurance, the industry is already talking about individual contributions that are based on driving behavior. In the future, too, it will become more and more personal in the car itself. Alexa for the car already exists.
Shortly, driving in the car will likely already be voice-controlled, and the voice assistant will independently go to the shops where we still wanted to buy something. Of course, he knows when we will be home and how late we are. Conveniently, the heating in our smart home will then already start. Of course, the driver’s seat automatically measures our vital signs in the background and transmits them to our health app, which then says that yoga is better than jogging today.
Everything will be networked with one another, and a lot in our life will become even more comfortable, maybe even better, in the future. The basis for this is our data – a small price? The “digital natives” generation is already prepared for this, but the “silver surfers” are now primarily digitally interested. Whether we like it or not, nobody can prevent digitization. It is and will remain important that we consciously decide which services and technologies we use and which data we want to disclose. The company handles our information transparently and carefully to make such a digital future worthwhile for all of us. Orwellian surveillance – the end will tell.