Originally Posted by Languid Lizard
Some legislation would definitely help. I sat down with an Member of Parliament discussing an issue closely related to this. I was left with the impression that nothing will happen in this area for a decade or more. If lobbying happened, there might be some progress, I felt, but Big Data will continue to do what they want for years to come.

Probably true. The unspoken belief is that globalised business provides a much larger global economy which benefits everyone. While this may be true, it also allows multi-national companies to seek the least onerous legislative environment, and to threaten to move away from nations that restrict their business.

The current wave of populist governments is, in part, a response to the fact that the globalised economy has resulted in very uneven distribution of wealth and power. If this fracturing of the globalised economy continues, it is possible that legislation may be easier to implement.

Originally Posted by Languid Lizard

I think you underestimate the potential for harm from data harvesting. Already, by combining data points from several sources, companies are able to make predictions about your behaviour more accurately than somebody that has lived with you 20 years! (If you have even lived 20 years.)

I have lived with my current partner for rather longer than 20 years, and am probably the oldest person commenting in the forum smile

But, no, I do not underestimate the ability to find and link data. Thirty years ago I worked for a financial services company investigating the impact of new technoogy for their business. One thing we looked at was then called "data mining" using an emerging class of ( very expensive ) parallel-compute systems. Even then, long before most people had even heard of the Internet, you could gain a great deal of insight into individuals from the data that was manually recorded about them and about recorded real-world interactions.

Consequently, I do not have a strong online profile. I comment on some technology and gaming sites ( like this one ), and I fully expect that my use of these sites can be linked. But I do not put out information on Facebook or similar social media where most of the abuse occurs, and avoid "engagement" with companies/organisations, regardless of the inducements they offer.

Unfortunately, many people have accepted the trade-off of "free" online services in exchange for personal data, often without understanding that if you can't see what a company in the digital world is selling, then it is probably selling you.

I don't care much that platforms like Facebook target adverts for selling products, since the more something is pushed in my face, the less likely I am to buy from that company. What really concerns me is the "echo chamber" effect of personalisation based on algorithms trying to understand humans. If a company like Facebook only ever shows you news/links that you like/agree with, then you will entrench your beliefs, and assume that everyone else shares them; and you will never learn anything new.

Personalised advertising is being exploited to influence people politically, both by domestic political entities trying to gain power, and by foreign governments/criminals to destabilise public opinion. I really do not want to go back to the geo-political tension of the 1970s; it was NOT a good place to be.

Originally Posted by Languid Lizard

Gaming starts young, and if it hasn't happened already, it soon will be the case that games are deliberately engineered to intelligence and personality test the (unwitting) "players" and use telemetry to send results back to the Harvesters, who would flog it (and you) to the highest bidder.

The choices made in games and regarding games could all be used against us in the technological dystopia into which we are walking.

I hope that Larian are conscious of this issue and do what can be achieved to be a light in this future nightmare world.

I'm sure that this is already happening, although I am skeptical of the value of information that can be gained from games playing, for two reasons:-

1. Games are not real life. I do things in games that I would never do in real life ( like gratuitously murder someone because I don't like their voice ), and I am also contradictory in my behaviour. The value of data relies on its accuracy, and with games, only metadata is likely to be accurate.

2. Most current attempts to extract useful information from the huge quantity of data being processed are astonishingly crude. For the most part they may be described as "statistics on steroids" at best, and simple keyword matching at worst. Still, it has some value for us as the data processing industry is actually what drives the GPU market forward, more than the games industry smile