As Apple introduces new features like “privacy nutrition labels”, consumers are realizing the true value of their data and the extent to which it's been manipulated and monetized over the last 10 years. In a press release about the updates, Apple cited a recent report that revealed that on average the apps in their store have at least 6 “trackers” that collect personal information. Our data has been fueling an industry valued at $227 billion/year.

Does this mean an end to data innovation? No, big data is not evil, but it does mean that ethical innovation & privacy-by-design must become the new gold standard. 

Governments around the world are setting up ethics councils to help set standards to keep consumers safe. And industry innovators are steadfast in their visions for an ethical data-driven future, working to develop technologies that optimize for privacy. 

Hassan Bhatti joins our futures community to share his insights from building CryptoNumerics, an enterprise software that helps enterprises effectively harness data sets while ensuring sensitive data stays private. The company was acquired by Snowflake last year, and Hassan is now working on building a cloud-based data marketplace that he hopes will become a “data backbone” that does not compromise privacy for insights. 

The potential for AI in healthcare

While AI has impacted the way we shop, bank, and even stay organized (thanks Alexa), there is still huge potential for its impact in healthcare. In our first clip, Hassan helps us understand how data can save costs and lives in healthcare. 

We need not sacrifice data utility for privacy

In the clip below we learn about two key technologies used to enhance privacy in data analysis: secure multiparty compute (SMC) and K-optimization. As privacy becomes a non-negotiable for consumers, these technologies will become essential in delivering the value of AI without sacrificing privacy.

Ethical Ai is a team sport

While companies and innovators are speeding ahead in advancing AI, Hassan reminds us that a systems approach is vital in keeping consumers safe. Alongside commercial products from companies like Snowflake, he shares a vision for a Wikipedia inspired system that allows data to be openly shared but also overseen by an UN-style governance body. While these structures add bureaucracy to the innovation process, they also facilitate trust-building - which will be vital for empowering consumers to share their data in the first place.

The ethics of AI is a growing area, especially as international investment in technology grows. Recent industry reports show global AI investment will reach $232 billion by 2025. In parallel to this, we are also seeing governments around the world set up oversight bodies to regulate its use: 

  • United Kingdom, November 2018, The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is announced to advise government on governance, standards and regulation to guide ethical AI
  • Japan, February 2017, The Ethics Committee of Japanese Society release Ethical Guidelines with an emphasis on public engagement
  • Singapore, August 2018, Singapore Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data appointed by the Minister for Communications
  • Australia, 2018, Federal Government announces funding for the development of a national AI ethics framework
  • Canada, November 2017, AI & Society program announced by Canadian Government to support research into social, economic and philosophical issues
  • India, June 2017, National Institute for Transformation of India publish their National Strategy for AI with a focus on ethical AI for all

Data co-ops and consumer rewards are coming

While all these advancements are happening, we need to remember that consumers' mindsets are also shifting. As people learn of how their data has been manipulated and monetized over the last 10 years, trust will need to be rebuilt and leaders will need to navigate the backlash.

Consensual data sharing must be based on education and awareness, and consumers will exercise their choice when it comes to which companies they share their data with. Similar to the rise of co-ops and credit unions alongside big banks, data cooperatives could respond to these changing attitudes.

In our last clip, Rhea and Hassan reflect on the changing mindsets of companies and consumers and the road ahead for data sharing practices that not only protect our data but empower us to understand how it can transform our lives.

Keep learning with us

Explore our growing content library and filter by the topics that impact your work! We've interviewed global experts from over 7 countries to understand the trends and tensions in the future of digital health.

We’re also excited to present the Bowhead Futures Digest: a newsletter for leaders looking to learn, debate, and co-create a future where technology & data empower our health.