What would Robo-Bloomberg Do?

Amy Chozick writes in the New York Times about the Bloomberg News admission that they snooped Bloomberg terminal usage statistics to see how specific individuals were behaving with respect to the Bloomberg data they were subscribed to receive. Reporters at the news division were given access to behavior data on specific users, and gave away their edge when they asked a Goldman Sachs manager if a particular employee was still at the company since they hadn’t logged into the Bloomberg terminal in a month. This is a good what-if robotics question because the reporters were taking on an ethical misstep in their desire to track specific human behavior so they could write stories that would sell. Now take the New Mediocracy idea in Robot Futures and pursue the what-if exercise: what if a company had access to such human behavior-tracking, but the users were automated market intelligence soft-bots rather than news reporters?  News reporters interview folks and eventually trip up, giving away their game. Soft-bots don’t. They mine human data, make decisions about advertising and marketing, and the chance of anyone figuring out just how they are being tracked, whether legally or illegally, is essentially zero. Can such tracking take place? Certainly! Existence proof: Bloomberg. Do robots do it? I don’t know. Neither do you.

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