Who owns your DNA? / Humans + Tech - #15
+ AI predicted the coronavirus outbreak, Teens know how to bypass Instagram's tracking algorithm, Google shared your videos with strangers and People with electronic hypersensitivity.
Businesses and governments around the world are in a race to get as much biometric data as they can on you. From your fingerprints to voice patterns to facial recognition to DNA samples, everything is up for grabs. This gold rush for our biometric data will affect our lives in ways we still cannot imagine. It is fuelling surveillance capitalism and threatens our privacy.
There are many good reasons for individuals to share their DNA and biometrics. The main concern is how do we make sure that individuals are in control of their biometrics and can determine how it is used, shared, and monetized.
Camilo La Cruz, the author of Article #1 below, is the Chief Strategy Officer at cultural consultancy, Sparks & Honey. Together with an expert workgroup of academics, entrepreneurs, and professionals in genomics, health tech, policy, and data sciences at the World Economic Forum, they are working to set the foundation for a biodata bill of rights that can protect people’s basic rights from companies and governments alike.
Read Article #1 below to find out more.
Onto this week’s main articles:
👉Who owns your DNA? You should, according to this biodata bill of rights [FastCompany]
🤖How AI helped predict the coronavirus outbreak before it happened [Singularity Hub]
📍Teens have figured out how to mess with Instagram's tracking algorithm [CNET]
📹Google accidentally shared your cloud video backups with strangers [The Next Web]
⚡️To these people, electronic devices are the enemy [Wired]
… and 10 more interesting articles further below.
Camilo La Cruz, writing for FastCompany:
Whether it’s our voice or our DNA, privacy matters because biodata reveals an essential, unchangeable part of who we are—and its unintended use or disclosure can expose individuals to discrimination, manipulation, and levels of surveillance that can threaten our democratic way of life.
Together with our partners at the World Economic Forum, we convened an expert workgroup of academics, entrepreneurs, and professionals in genomics, health tech, policy, and data sciences to set the foundation for a biodata bill of rights that can protect people’s basic rights from companies and governments alike.
This is hugely important. Businesses and Governments are already hoarding biometric data of their customers and citizens. Genomics and biotechnology are attracting lots of investment and companies are looking to profit off of our biometric data.
It’s only fair that we own our own biometric data, control how it’s used and distributed, and profit from it when it’s used by others with our consent.
Marc Prosser, writing for Singularity Hub:
A little under two weeks before the World Health Organization (WHO) alerted the public of the coronavirus outbreak, a Canadian artificial intelligence company was already sounding the alarm. BlueDot uses AI-powered algorithms to analyze information from a multitude of sources to identify disease outbreaks and forecast how they may spread. On December 31st 2019, the company sent out a warning to its customers to avoid Wuhan, where the virus originated. The WHO didn’t send out a similar public notice until January 9th, 2020.
Scientists and researchers are also working on AI systems that can create new drugs, predict the spread of infectious diseases, as well as predict where virus outbreaks are likely to strike—before they do.
However, the accuracy of these systems is heavily dependent on the quality and quantity of data they are fed. BlueDot uses humans to verify the findings from its AI — and that may very well be the best approach in the foreseeable future.
Alfred Ng, writing for CNET:
Like about a billion other people, 17-year-old Samantha Mosley spent her Saturday afternoon perusing Instagram.
She was taking a glance at the Explore tab, a feature on Instagram that shows you posts tailored for your interests based on algorithms that track your online activities and target posts to your feed.
But unlike many of Instagram’s users, Mosley and her high school friends in Maryland had figured out a way to fool tracking by the Facebook-owned social network. On the first visit, her Explore tab showed images of Kobe Bryant. Then on a refresh, cooking guides, and after another refresh, animals.
Each time she refreshed the Explore tab, it was a completely different topic, none of which she was interested in. That’s because Mosley wasn’t the only person using this account — it belonged to a group of her friends, at least five of whom could be on at any given time. Maybe they couldn’t hide their data footprints, but they could at least leave hundreds behind to confuse trackers.
Good on the teens for figuring out how to fool Facebook’s tracking algorithms. Every Goliath has it’s David.
Mix, writing for The Next Web:
Are you paranoid someone is watching the content you store in the cloud? You might be onto something. Google accidentally shared archives of some people’s videos with other Photos users for a brief period of time last year.
If you’re one of the affected users, you probably got the notice above from Google.
Google says only 0.01% of users were affected by this bug. Google Photos has a billion users, so that’s “only” 100,000 people who had their personal videos shared with strangers.
Michael Hardy, writing for Wired:
The impending arrival of 5G has thrust the debate about the health risks of cell phones back to the forefront. But for the subjects of Claudia Gori’s photographs, who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), it’s not a debate—it’s their lives. Gori first learned about the condition from the Werner Herzog documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, and decided to seek out EHS sufferers in her native Italy. “The people I met began to have symptoms when they started using a lot of electronic devices, especially after Wi-Fi was developed,” Gori says. “They started to feel disturbed by their computer screens or smartphones.”
Many EHS sufferers have to quit their jobs because they can’t use a computer, further isolating them from society. Some, like EHS sufferer Chuck McGill on Better Call Saul, have transformed their homes into makeshift Faraday cages to keep out electromagnetic waves.
EHS is not recognised by the WHO as a medical problem or a medical diagnosis. When it leads to people quitting their jobs to escape the effects of EHS, then we need to understand this phenomenon more.
It would be great if someone or some organisation could fund a study to understand EHS and how these people are being affected.
10 more informative articles from around the web
An algorithm that can spot cause and effect could supercharge medical AI [MIT Technology Review]
A new implant for blind people jacks directly into the brain [MIT Technology Review]
China clamps down on coronavirus coverage as cases surge [The New York Times]
How to teach a robot to be a stand-up comedian [IEEE Spectrum]
Quote of the week
“Data is the pollution problem of the information age, and protecting privacy is the environmental challenge.”
― Bruce Schneier, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World
Wish you a brilliant day ahead :)