AI, Data, Privacy, and Covid-19

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Would you share your personal data with the government?

For example, what we could get in return is, let’s say, some sort of medical service. At the beginning of the post, I asked how many coffees a day do you drink. This may seem like an irrelevant question and it may not seem as important, but those small things and habits shape our lives.

So let’s say we have an imaginary person named Bob, and his heart condition is not in the best shape. He might have high blood pressure, or his beats per minute are higher than normal. If Bob noted that he drinks more than 5 cups of coffee a day, then some conclusions can be drawn upon the information available. His doctor or health supervisor can give him advice on whether to reduce the amount of coffee he drinks a day, to replace it with something else, or to quit altogether. This may seem like a banal example, but it shows sharing such data can help if there are mutual benefits. People can get services like this and the government can get more insight into its citizens. Of course, as long as the data and privacy aren’t “leaked” or exploited in the wrong way. But, do you trust your government, and are you afraid that it just might happen?

I am trying to raise some critical questions using these examples. We all have smartphones and, in a way, we already agreed to share our data with let’s say Google or Apple. If you’re using Google Maps, you’re willingly giving your current location to navigate more comfortably in an unknown area or to find something that you’re looking for. So this is a trade-off; you give your location to get some sort of service for that. Then the provider of the service you were using can use your location, make movement patterns, check the places you visited, or were mostly interested in. Then advertisement campaigns can be created specifically for you, with specific ads being served based on the data they have about you.

I see so many people paranoid in a sense, if they give their data to the government, they will be “controlled.” So my question is, if you’re willing to give your data to some company, why not give your data to your own country? I am not oriented towards any political party, nor am I working for the government (I’m actually apolitical), I am just trying to make people more knowledgeable about these kinds of things and to give more insight into how this stuff works so that they can make their own future decisions, possibly in a better way.