Data Mining Your Brain

Over the past few years there has been an explosion in the amount of data being transferred from users’ brains to permanent storage (a.k.a. “the cloud”), where it can be sifted through and analyzed by anyone with access to it. Typically, the ones with access are the major corporations that are doing the “hosting”. Like any good “host”, they soon know everything about you, down to the most intimate details, and have no compunction at all about selling that information to practically anyone who will pay for it.

Who knows everything there is to know about you? Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle – do any of these names sound familiar?

A decade or go I first got a hint of this when I worked on a project called “Interactive TV” at Sun Microsystems. It became clear early on that what they meant by “interactive” was “figuring out which advertisements to show you based on what you watched and responded to”. At that time it was only a computer corporation’s wet dream but since then it has become commonplace. Anyone with Gmail has seen that page littered with what Google believes are appropriate ads from information gleaned from the content of your personal correspondence. Facebook with its billion users and deeply vertical penetration into their individual worlds is a boiling cauldron of personal data leading to unlimited advertising potential.

More and more players are getting into the game, including, finally, publishers. Players like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, through their Kindle and Nook devices, are now able to tap even deeper into your brain. They can see deep down even into which sentences people highlight. Just as there are companies which specialize in “search engine optimization”, there will soon be companies which will help writers and publishers fine tune their products down to the word level – they will know exactly which kinds of phrases are sure to get the lady erotica readers hottest, and which technical terms resound in the brains of teen sci-fi fanatics. There is really no end to the potentials of tailorization. That thing that used to be known as “creativity” will finally be tackled and nailed down.

They know who you are and they know what you like. Your pleasure centers will be stimulated precisely and eternally, joy without end. Hallelujah.

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