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What happens when a company that really understands data starts to watch over us?

enemy of the state

Google’s New All-Seeing Satellites Have Huge Potential—For Good and Evil

"In his WIRED feature story on Skybox, David Samuels describes some of the stunning ways high-resolution images shot from space are being used to unlock secrets about life on the ground. One company is tracking cars in parking lots to create retail forecasts. Images of pits and slag heaps reveal the productivity of mines. Pictures of property damage from above can tell insurance companies whether a claim is valid.

“Many of the most economically and environmentally significant actions that individuals and businesses carry out every day, from shipping goods to shopping at big-box retail outlets to cutting down trees to turning out our lights at night, register in one way or another on images taken from space,” Samuels writes. “So, while Big Data companies scour the Internet and transaction records and other online sources to glean insight into consumer behavior and economic production around the world, an almost entirely untapped source of data–information that companies and governments sometimes try to keep secret–is hanging in the air right above us.”

In a statement, Google has said that, in the short term, it plans to use Skybox’s satellites to keep Google Maps up to date. And, in the future, the company says, it could use them to help spread internet access to remote areas, something that will help improve the reach of its existing services. But imagine all the other things Google could do turns its artificial intelligence expertise onto a constant stream of images beamed down from above.

One Skybox insider told Samuels that satellite images alone could be used to estimate any country’s major economic indicators. Take, for example, this Skybox case study of Saudi oil reserves measured from space. Now consider the insights that could come from marrying that visual data with Google’sKnowledge Graph, leveraging all the company’s algorithmic might. Google could learn all kinds of new things about the world."

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Living in 2014 means living with the knowledge that lots of entities have lots of data about us.

It won't stop.

Where the line of abuse is remains to be defined.

The concern is that in 2015 and beyond, all that data is joining up.

Historically we needed data standards and formats to be able to join up data

Now we are able to join up data that is very disparate by synthesizing keys out of the complex data

Once somebody has the full picture then this is where the problems begin

What happens if someone builds a false picture and that picture starts to be believed

How can you unwind that false profile once it has propagated into meatspace

The EU directive on search engines (deleting the indexes associated with certain terms) is just the surface of the problem

The bigger issue is that the legal system we currently have cannot move fast enough to legislate on these matters and there are not enough people around who have a deep understanding of lawmaking AND the technology trajectories. 

But it is too late for the individual to take back their data

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