AI gets personal in ads

Really long think piece that raises more questions that it answers.
(And for me, left me feeling very helpless as a results).

Dan, Gary and I have talked about this on and off for the past 12 or so years.

Machine learning is what’s taking place with our personal data while we’re passive players in the process.

Personalization algorithms designed to know our intentions before we do form the backbone of the Internet Economy. And while these algorithmic systems may not fit all the criteria of genuine Artificial Intelligence (AI), their artifice is firmly in place in terms of their bias. Advertising-based AI frames our lives within purchase funnels, where our desires are only relevant in regards to return on investment.

This model is why the discussion about individuals selling their personal data is missing the point: ‘How much money is your data worth?’ ‘Are you just like any data broker if you whore your information to the highest bidder?’ These are questions asked within the existing paradigm of Internet advertising, where we’re simply tools to generate data versus individuals in control of our identities. Artificial Intelligence in this context makes perfect sense. Our lives in code are transactional versus transformational. Why bother getting humans in the mix when invisible tracking ostensibly knows us better than we know ourselves?

Yes, its a long and at times difficult read, but if you are interested in thinking about how your data, your online presence is handled, bought, sold and analyzed, its worth a read.
As I said, I am personally struggling to think about this topic. So much of what we do online is ‘free’ because we freely offer our data, it’s hard to know where to draw the line. Indeed, most times we don’t even know there is a line or how close we are to crossing it.
They make the point in the article;

It’s been widely acknowledged there’s also a creep factor when personalized advertising gets to know your actions in ways that don’t make sense to you. For instance, after buying a tent for a friend, you may get spammed with hiking ads even though you’re not an outdoors type. But with the acceleration of machine learning, ads may also target your “hidden self” you may want to hide or not even be aware of. Is the assumption among advertisers that a stranger revealing your secrets back to you with a commercial bias engenders trust or a desire to purchase?

What seems like a harmless action. Clicking ‘buy’ on a tent for a friend can have implications.
Often, far reaching ones that we don’t, indeed, can’t, know about.
How do you know what is logged and sold and what is not?
Can you do anything about it? Can you clear the purchase history of that tent from every broker that has brought the information? Who even owns that ‘click’?

It’s all a bit much and I suspect that it’s not going to ‘go away’ or become any easier to wrap our heads around.
Sure, there is the overwhelming desire to just unplug, but for some of us, that would mean the end of our careers.
Then what?

I’m asking more questions that I can answer. Never a good place to be…….