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← Why you should get paid for your data

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Showing Revision 11 created 03/10/2020 by Aviva Nassimi.

  1. I grew up in the late '70s in rural China
  2. during the final years of my country's
    pursuit of absolute equality
  3. at the expense of liberty.
  4. At that time, everybody had a job,
  5. but everyone was struggling.
  6. In the early '80s,
    my dad was an electrician,
  7. and my mom worked two shifts
    in the local hospital.
  8. But still, we didn't have enough food,
  9. and our living conditions were dismal.
  10. We were undoubtedly equal --
  11. we were equally poor.
  12. The state owned everything.
  13. We owned nothing.
  14. The story I'm going to share with you
    is about my struggles
  15. of overcoming adversity
  16. with my resilience, grit
    and sheer determination.
  17. No, I'm just kidding,
    I'm not going to do that to you.
  18. (Laughter)

  19. Instead, I'm going to tell you,

  20. what I'm going to talk about today
    is about a new form of collective poverty
  21. that many of us don't recognize
  22. and that urgently needs to be understood.
  23. I'm sure you've noticed
    that in the past 20 years,

  24. that asset has emerged.
  25. It's been generating wealth
    at a breakneck pace.
  26. As a tool, it has brought businesses
    deep customer insights,
  27. operational efficiency
  28. and enormous top-line growth.
  29. But for some,
  30. it has also provided a device
    to manipulate a democratic election
  31. or perform surveillance
    for profit or political purposes.
  32. What is this miracle asset?
  33. You've guessed it: it's data.
  34. Seven out of the top 10 most valuable
    companies in the world are tech companies

  35. that either directly generate
    profit from data
  36. or are empowered by data from the core.
  37. Multiple surveys show
  38. that the vast majority
    of business decision makers
  39. regard data as an essential
    asset for success.
  40. We have all experienced how data
    is shifting this major paradigm shift
  41. for our personal, economic
    and political lives.
  42. Whoever owns the data owns the future.
  43. But who's producing the data?

  44. I assume everyone in this room
    has a smartphone,
  45. several social media accounts
  46. and has done a Google search
    or two in the past week.
  47. We are all producing data. Yes.
  48. It is estimated that by 2030,
    10 years from now,

  49. there will be about 125 billion
    connected devices in the world.
  50. That's an average of about
    15 devices per person.
  51. We are already producing data every day.
  52. We'll be producing exponentially more.
  53. Google, Facebook and Tencent's
    combined revenue in 2018
  54. was 236 billion US dollars.
  55. Now, how many of you
    have received payment from them
  56. for the data you generate for them?
  57. None, right?
  58. Data has immense value
    but is centrally controlled and owned.
  59. You are all walking raw materials
    for those large data companies,
  60. but none of you are paid.
  61. Not only that,

  62. you're not even considered
    as part of this equation for income.
  63. So once again,
  64. we are undoubtedly equal:
  65. we're equally poor.
  66. Somebody else owns everything,
    and we own nothing.
  67. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
  68. So what should we do?

  69. There might be some clues
    in how my life turned out
  70. after that difficult start.
  71. Things began to look up
    for my family in the '80s.
  72. The system evolved,
  73. and people began to be allowed
    to own a piece of what we created.
  74. "People diving into the ocean,"
  75. or "xia hai," the Chinese term,
  76. described those who left
    state-owned enterprise jobs
  77. and started their own businesses.
  78. Private ownership of a business
  79. became personal ownership of cars,
  80. properties, food, clothes and things.
  81. The economic machine started rolling,
  82. and people's lives began to improve.
  83. For the first time,
  84. to get rich was glorious.
  85. So in the '90s, when I went
    to study in Chengdu in west China,
  86. many young individuals like myself
  87. were well-positioned
    to take advantage of the new system.
  88. After I graduated from my university,
  89. I cofounded my first business
    and moved to Shenzhen,
  90. the brand-new special economic zone
    that used to be a fishing village.
  91. Twenty years later,
  92. Shenzhen has become
    a global innovation powerhouse.
  93. Private ownership was a form of liberty
    we didn't have before.

  94. It created unprecedented opportunities
    for our generations,
  95. motivating us to work
    and study incredibly hard.
  96. The result was that more than
    850 million people rose out of poverty.
  97. According to the World Bank,
  98. China's extreme poverty rate in 1981,
    when I was a little kid, was 88 percent.
  99. By 2015, 0.7 percent.
  100. I am a product of that success,
  101. and I am very happy to share that today,
    I have my own AI business,
  102. and I lead a very worldly
    and dynamic life,
  103. a path that was unimaginable
    when I was a kid in west China.
  104. Of course, this prosperity
    came with a trade-off,

  105. with equality,
    the environment and freedom.
  106. And obviously I'm not here to argue
    that China has it all figured out.
  107. We haven't.
  108. Nor that data is fully comparable
    to physical assets.
  109. It is not.
  110. But my life experience allowed me
    to see what's hiding in plain sight.
  111. Currently, the public discourse
  112. is so focused on the regulatory
    and privacy issue
  113. when it comes to data ownership.
  114. But I want to ask:
  115. What if we look at data ownership
    in completely different ways?
  116. What if data ownership is, in fact,
  117. a personal, individual and economic issue?
  118. What if, in the new digital economy,
  119. we are allowed to own
    a piece of what we create
  120. and give people the liberty
    of private data ownership?
  121. The legal concept of ownership
    is when you can possess,

  122. use, gift, pass on, destroy
  123. or trade it or sell your asset
  124. at a price accepted by you.
  125. What if we give that same definition
    to individuals' data,
  126. so individuals can use or destroy our data
  127. or we trade it at our chosen price?
  128. Now, I know some of you might say,

  129. "I would never, ever trade my data
    for any amount of money."
  130. But that, let me remind you,
    is exactly what you're doing now,
  131. except you're giving
    your data away for free.
  132. Plus, privacy is a very personal
    and nuanced issue.
  133. You might have the privilege
    to prioritize your privacy over money,
  134. but for millions of small
    business owners in China
  135. who can't get bank loans easily,
  136. using their data to gain rapid loan
    approval from AI-powered lenders
  137. can answer their more pressing needs.
  138. What's private to you
  139. is different from
    what's private to others.
  140. What's private to you now
  141. is different from what was private
    when you were in college.
  142. Or, at least, I hope so.
  143. (Laughter)

  144. We are always,
    although often subconsciously,

  145. making such trade-offs
  146. based on our diverse personal beliefs
    and life priorities.
  147. That is why data ownership
    would be incomplete
  148. without a pricing power.
  149. By assigning pricing power to individuals,

  150. we gain a tool to reflect
    our personal and nuanced preferences.
  151. So, for example, you could choose
    to donate your data for free
  152. if a contribution
    to a particular medical research
  153. is very meaningful for you.
  154. Or, if we had the tools
    to set our behavior data
  155. at a price of, say,
    100,000 US dollars,
  156. I doubt any political group
    would be able to target
  157. or manipulate your vote.
  158. You control. You decide.
  159. Now, I know this sounds
    probably implausible,

  160. but trends are already pointing to
  161. a growing and very powerful
    individual data ownership movement.
  162. First, start-ups
    are already creating tools
  163. to allow us to take back some control.
  164. A new browser called Brave
  165. empowers users with "Brave Shields" --
    they literally call it that --
  166. by aggressively blocking
    data-grabbing ads and trackers,
  167. and avoid leaking data
    like other browsers.
  168. In return, users can take back
    some bargaining and pricing power.
  169. When users opt in to accept ads,
  170. Brave rewards users
    with "basic attention tokens"
  171. that can redeem content
    behind paywalls from publishers.
  172. And I've been using Brave
    for a few months.
  173. It has already blocked
    more than 200,000 ads and trackers
  174. and saved hours of my time.
  175. Now, I know some of you
    interact with your browser
  176. more than with your partners, so --
  177. (Laughter)

  178. you should at least find one that doesn't
    waste your time and is not creepy.
  179. (Laughter)

  180. Do you think Google is indispensable?

  181. Think again.
  182. A search engine is indispensable.
  183. Google just has the monopoly --
  184. for now.
  185. A search engine called DuckDuckGo
    doesn't store your personal information
  186. or follow you around with ads
  187. or track your personal browsing history.
  188. Instead, it gives all users
    the same search results
  189. instead of based on
    your personal browsing records.
  190. In London, a company called digi.me

  191. offers an app you can download
    on your smartphone
  192. that helps to import and consolidate
    your data generated by you
  193. from your Fitbit, Spotify,
  194. social media accounts ...
  195. And you can choose
    where to store your data,
  196. and digi.me will help you
    to make your data work for you
  197. by providing insights that used
    to be exclusively accessible
  198. by large data companies.
  199. In DC, a new initiative
    called UBDI, U-B-D-I,

  200. Universal Basic Data Income,
  201. helps people to make money
  202. by sharing anonymous insights
    through their data
  203. for companies that can use them
    for market research.
  204. And whenever a company purchases a study,
  205. users get paid in cash and UBDI points
    to track their contribution,
  206. potentially as much
    as 1,000 US dollars per year
  207. per their estimation.
  208. UBDI could be a very feasible path
    for universal basic income
  209. in the AI economy.
  210. Further, individual awareness
    of privacy and data ownership

  211. is growing fast
  212. as we all become aware of this monster
    we have unleashed in our pocket.
  213. I'm a mother of two preteen girls,
  214. and trust me,
  215. the single biggest source of stress
    and anxiety as a parent,
  216. for me, is my children's
    relationship with technology.
  217. This is a three-page agreement
    my husband and I make them sign
  218. before they receive
    their first [mobile phone].
  219. (Laughter)

  220. We want to help them to become

  221. digital citizens,
  222. but only if we can make them
    become smart and responsible ones.
  223. I help them to understand
    what kind of data should never be shared.
  224. So if you Google me,
  225. in fact -- actually, sorry --
    if you DuckDuckGo me,
  226. you will find maybe a lot
    about me and my work,
  227. but you may find no information
    about my daughters.
  228. When they grow up,
  229. if they want to put themselves out there,
    it's their choice, not mine,
  230. despite that I insist
    they're the most beautiful,
  231. smartest and most extraordinary
    kids in the world, of course.
  232. And I know many people
    are having similar conversations
  233. and making similar decisions,
  234. which gives me hope
  235. that a truly smart data-rich future
    will be here soon.
  236. But I want to highlight
    the Clause 6 of this agreement.

  237. It says, "I will never, ever search
    for any information online
  238. if I would be embarrassed
    if seen by Grandma Dawnie."
  239. (Laughter)

  240. Try it. It's really effective.

  241. (Laughter)

  242. Throughout history,

  243. there has always been a trade-off
    between liberty and equality
  244. in the pursuit of prosperity.
  245. The world has constantly been going
    through the circle of wealth accumulation
  246. to wealth redistribution.
  247. As the tension between
    the haves and have-nots
  248. is breaking so many countries,
  249. it is in everyone's interest,
  250. including the large data companies,
  251. to prevent this new form of inequality.
  252. Of course, individual data ownership
    is not the perfect nor the complete answer

  253. to this profoundly complex question
  254. of what makes a good digital society.
  255. But according to McKinsey,
  256. AI will add 13 trillion US dollars
    of economic output in the next 10 years.
  257. Data generated by individuals
    will no doubt contribute
  258. to this enormous growth.
  259. Shouldn't we at least consider
    an economic model
  260. that empowers the people?
  261. And if private ownership helped
    to lift more than 850 million people
  262. out of poverty,
  263. it is our duty
  264. and we owe it to future generations
  265. to create a more inclusive AI economy
  266. that will empower the people
    in addition to businesses.
  267. Thank you.

  268. (Applause)