Big data has transformed or is transforming the way many things are practised. For example insurance companies now can use you posts you make on facebook to reject claims, banks now have algorithms that analyse who you’re friends with on facebookand then predicts how likely you are to repay loans based on who you associate with and Amazon can tailor the prices it offers you based on you customer data.

What the internet of things means for all of this is a much deeper analysis of individuals can be formed. What one does with this portrait is only limited by the imagination. Based off the amazon example of price discrimination would it be much of a stretch to say that with the portrait of an individual can prices be tailored to incentivise/disincentivse certain purchases based on data gathered on that persons. The ethics behind this are contentious, if left to the hands of an algorithm would it it positively influence a persons life?

Factors that would decide this would be the sophistication of the algorithm and the intent behind its creation. An algorithm designed to offer you cheap beers might be bad for obvious reasons but it has potential to be good in that it might be able to regulate consumption, or might be able to foster relationships (an algorithm that measure who else is looking for drinks and if you’re friends with them). An algorithm that incentivises healthy eating would be good for obvious reasons but if combined with other aspects such as health insurance, is there autonomy behind the decision or is it controlled by monetary factors?

It’s truly a brave new world we are entering into and deep examinations of the ethics and future implications of big data, wearable and the internet of things is extremely necessary.


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