Digital Labor meets Personal Health

In Robot Futures I write about the dangers of Digital Labor, of how the era of net-enabled behavioral analysis across consumers generates value for the companies who own, mine and resell data that can be utterly personal in nature. The Guardian’s Christian Payne wrote an article yesterday, How activity trackers remove our rights to our most intimate data, that drives this point home for the case of personal health devices. Will these devices empower individuals to become more mindful of their bodies and selves, to improve their habits and increase their quality of life? Or are these devices for capital creation, devoted to collecting large stores of behavioral data in order to monetize along avenues heretofore undiscovered?  Payne makes the case that several companies may not have the most customer-empowering intentions in mind- not by a long shot. I also enjoyed the article since it highlight Fluxtream, which is a wonderful collaboration of Bodytrack, which is also right here at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab. It will take the efforts of developers dedicated to unleashing the power of big data to the individuals who fairly own the data to overcome the natural capital tendencies of for-profit companies, driven by the urgent need to see their valuations reach escape velocity.

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