Tracking for good: why the future might hold more control for personal data

When it comes to the complex world of data science and the process of aggregating millions of points of personal data, our collective outlook isn’t favorable: scandals swirling around the NSA’s PRISM program is the tip of the iceberg of scare tactics users are subjected to regarding the handling of personal data. But can we use that information for good?

Juliette Powell, founder and CEO of Turing AI, said onstage Wednesday at Gigaom’s Structure Data conference in New York City that her involvement in the We the Data project, which analyzes how data affects communities, showed her that it could be possible to use data for good.

“I love to look at data from the perspective of, ‘How do we add value to the community?’” she said.

Powell explained that the ideal way to utilize personal data would be to create a marketplace that allows individual users to monetize their personal data points and control where it goes. An example Powell mentioned was Army of Women, a campaign between Avon and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation that encouraged women to send in DNA swabs to help further map the genetic intricacies of breast cancer.

“If you got a million women that are sharing their DNA around a major breast cancer research project, you’re suddenly not only potentially solving major problems in the world, but we’re all doing it together from a collective perspective and we’re all realizing the power of our personal data for good.”

See more of Powell’s vision in the video below:
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Photo by Jakub Mosur.

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