Is Data The New Currency In Today’s World?

David DumasStrategy and Planning

data currency

A recent post from Devops.com got us thinking about data and currency. And no, we’re not talking about Bitcoin. Although that may be another story for another day.

In the article, it was stated that “by the end of 2019, IoT will generate more than 500 zettabytes of data per year. In the past two years alone, 90% of all the world’s collected data was generated.”

That volume of data is staggering, to say the least.

What Does It All Mean?

There are more than a few implications of that level of data collection. Ethics, morality, AI Armageddon? What does it all mean? Some might say that we’re essentially data creation machines these days. Such a question is posited in the DevOps.com article linked above.

Are we? Well, in a word, yes. Especially since we have entered an age where data creation, collection, and analysis is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

One particular phrase lept out at us while reading the article:

Data is becoming the currency that drives our economies and a motivation manipulator that impacts our societies

Is this correct? Probably.

Data as Currency

Data on its own is nothing new. To an extent, everything we do and create is a form of data. However, the way in which we think about data has changed. And the way in which we collect, analyze, and utilize this data has changed with it.

100 years ago, people and businesses still thought about data. From carnival barkers learning the right way to entice would-be customers to the early days of Madison avenue. Everything revolved around what we might consider to be data. Times have changed, but not too drastically in the sense that these things have always existed.

Today, the methods of collection and the actions we take with that information have changed drastically. And with that, comes concerns of privacy and impropriety.

What Can We Do?

Drawing on themes we have previously discussed, the DevOps.com article cites the need for us to carefully consider the implications of the technologies we’re currently creating and the safeguards necessary to protect it. An example cited in the piece:

When malicious actors gain access to data, not only does it put us at risk, but it also can lower the value of data. Consider this scenario of a hacker gaining access to data from the insurance company’s network-connected device in your car: The data on that device could have lowered your premium, but the hacker changed the information to show much higher speeds and extreme braking, then threatened you to pay a ransom or risk the hacker sending the altered data to the insurance company. In this case, because the IoT device was hacked, the financial impact of your data changed from a financial advantage to a financial disadvantage. Remember, data value is directly related to its integrity.


-DevOps.Com “Data: the New Currency That Accelerates Business “

In the Future

Is data the new currency? It certainly can be. However, it can also be maliciously used, misused, or devalued. Just like “real” currency. At its heart, the question turn to the power of information. Which, for all intents and purposes, is what data is. Information.

The concept of data currency isn’t entirely new. Information has always equaled power, access, and in some cases both benign and malicious, wealth.

The question turns to two areas of data security and integrity. What are we creating? What are we doing with it? And how are we protecting it? What do we, as stewards of the technologies we’re building, have to do to allay public fears of it? What information does the public need in order to make informed decisions and take reasonable precautions?

Is better education needed to manage consumer expectations? Probably. AI in particular is scary to people. Recent congressional hearings regarding data and privacy as well as measures such as the EU’s GDPR are meant in some way to inform and protect the public. However, reasonable education and expectations need to be expected as well.

A clear mandate, including a coherent approach to privacy and security are necessary. Not only to allay public fears of massive misuse; but also to maintain some semblance of control over how the data being created and how it is being used.

We are generating massive amounts of data. More than ever before. If we don’t get a handle on it now, and establish clear guidelines and strong policies for handling it, we may not like the world we end up creating.