Apple, Google, and FaceBook are making significant investments in artificial intelligence (deep learning) and other advertising (snooping) enabling technology to better serve (exploit) their customers (us) and make trillions of dollars for their offshore accounts. This reminds me (in a very creepy way) of the TV series “Person of Interest” that I’m currently binge streaming on Netflix.
For those of you who have not seen it, the premise of Person of Interest is a black box computer system that identifies security threats (terrorists) using artificial intelligence and the data that we make available on the internet every day. Security cameras and IoT of course but also everything we do online. In addition to identifying suspected terrorists for the US Government, there is a backdoor that identifies people who are in danger and spits out their social security number. The billionaire developer of the system has recruited an ex-assassin (who likes to shoot bad guys in the knee) to help rescue these people. The series started in 2011 so today the technology they describe exists. The irony here is that while I’m binge watching POI, Netflix is collecting data on me of course.
“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know, because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people; people like you. Crimes the government considered ‘irrelevant’. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up… we’ll find you”.
Since I am an Apple fan let’s take a look at a recent acquisition that should make us all stop and think, “Person of Interest”. Last month Apple acquired Emotient, a VC-funded startup commercializing emotion recognition technology based on 20 years of research by the six founding scientists. Using video from any camera, the deep learning-based technology detects facial expressions and demographics. They call it “a neuromarketing wave that is driving a quantum leap in customer understanding”.
And let’s not forget what demographics means:
Quantifiable characteristics of a given population. Demographic analysis can cover whole societies, or groups defined by criteria such as education, nationality, religion and ethnicity.
I also had to Wikipedia Neuromarketing:
A field of marketing research that studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. Researchers use technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain, electroencephalography (EEG) and Steady state topography (SST) to measure activity in specific regional spectra of the brain response, or sensors to measure changes in one’s physiological state, also known as biometrics, including heart rate and respiratory rate, galvanic skin response to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and which brain areas are responsible. Certain companies, particularly those with large-scale ambitions to predict consumer behaviour, have invested in their own laboratories, science personnel or partnerships with academia.
Did you read the article about the husband who learned of his wife’s pregnancy from her Fitbit data? Now think about how much your smartphone knows about you and tell me if you are a Person of Interest?
Next I will write about the 8 robotics companies Google has purchased in the last 6 months……..