You know the story about privacy and data, right? You’re losing both. Whatever there is to know about you, your family, your history, and your online habits (whether via apps or browsing) the behemoths of the internet already know it.
We’re talking about Google and Facebook and Amazon and how their online prowess has scooped up everything there is to know about you and they are using it to sell you more goods from China, to alter your political thinking, and to get you to do their bidding.
Or, so the story goes. Minority Report was real, folks. Well, maybe not as real as big data wants us to believe. But they do want us to believe. The truth is out there. Here’s the headline about the Minority Report data mongers.
Uh, OK. So, why is it that Amazon raises and lowers prices on goods I stuff into my shopping cart, and then park in Save For Later, and then delete altogether because I changed my mind?
How can they possibly know that? Oh, and why do they keep sending me email messages and splatter my online browsing experience with ads about Bluetooth keyboards as if I’ve become a keyboard collector?
What kind of game is that? What does that big load of collected data that Google, Facebook, and Amazon do?
Practitioners of machine learning are trying to gauge the likelihood you’ll return a piece of apparel even before you buy it.
So, the idea here is that all the information scooped up by the privacy offenders will be used against me and they are so good at it they can predict what I will return before I buy it?
If they’re so smart why would they sell it to me?
…by predicting people’s propensity to return what’s in their shopping cart before they purchase, and using rewards and punishments to block returns.
Oh, so online retailers engage in masochism? They want me to buy a product from them even when they know I’ll return it just so they can punish me?
That seems like an extreme use of private information, don’t you think? Big data is getting desperate to influence those that give them the data in the first place.
All of this is meant to enable the computer to decide, in less than 70 milliseconds, just how much of a risk of a return you are.
You know, I know Amazon knows this, but I search for items I will never buy, leave them in my shopping cart awhile, then later put them into Save For Later, then move them back and forth, then delete them forever.
I’m just messing with big data. It’s fun.
The purpose is to decide whether to treat you differently as a return risk via reward and punishment, with a variety of measures.
Walmart keeps sending me email telling me that what’s in my app’s shopping cart is now reserved. Then I buy it on Amazon.
Those include increasing your shipping charges, as a deterrent, or offering you a coupon as an incentive in return for making the purchase non-returnable.
I don’t think that’s how it works with Amazon Prime.
OK, let’s face it. With all that data collected from a gazillion earthlings, I can see why they want to predict what individuals will do, but that’s a fool’s game. Don’t you think that if God could have predicted what Adam and Eve would do in The Garden Of Eden that he would have made an adjustment in the gene pool?