Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Does Google know if you're honest?

We're all getting used to the idea that companies like Google and Facebook know a lot about us. Combined with our social networks and tribal instincts, this data can be exploited to sell us consumer junk. Although I'm sure mercantile concerns will keep the data miners busy for a while, what else could they tell about us given all that data?

How well could they infer your honesty? Respect for authority? Laziness? Intelligence? Whether you're a good person in general? What else about your temperament is revealed in the mouse tracks you leave all over the web? And what use could that be put to? The political uses are already being done, so that's old news.

How about an uber-credit report with a run down of numerical scores like some Dungeons and Dragons character? I wouldn't mind seeing that before I hired someone or went into business together. Or, for that matter, bought an asset-backed security from someone.

Open systems of politics and economics depend so heavily on trust. And, it's a wonder that we maintain as much trust as we do under current circumstances. How do you feel about being an open book in a global small town where everyone knows everyone else's business?

Updates

The Wall Street Journal has a piece on a company call RapLeaf.

RapLeaf's segments recently included a person's household income range, age range, political leaning, and gender and age of children in the household, as well as interests in topics including religion, the Bible, gambling, tobacco, adult entertainment and "get rich quick" offers. In all, RapLeaf segmented people into more than 400 categories