For most of the business models, whether it is a web service on the internet, whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s Google, whether it’s any of the other well-known services, or even companies that are starting to increasingly look to a model called social business, the real currency, the oil of the 21st Century, the black gold is information about people: what they do, what they say, what they feel, what they think.
I was at a session a couple of days ago in the most opulent hotel I’ve ever been in, the Shangri-La in Paris. I had a session about big data, business analytics, and sentiment and predictive analysis. And so, many of the big information technology companies are looking at this as the next frontier to mine and to extract value from, and almost all of the raw material of that is data about people. And that’s a very interesting development. The raw material of the intangible information based economy of the 21st Century is information about people. And that is used to do what? To sell them more things To extract value from that information.
Now, what that implies then, of course, is over time a very precise targeting of people’s thoughts, people’s emotions and the activities of their daily lives. The probability that then in turn turns things narrower and leads us towards a subconscious or a semi-conscious conformity because of what we get reflected back to us by the corporations, is something to watch with great care, I think.