Technology has reduced everyone to a set of data. I am not an individual capable of unique thoughts and autonomous actions (let’s be honest, “inactions”). I am a demographic. I am predictable. Some algorithm out there probably could predict what I’m about to write next (and I wish they would, this whole writing thing takes up a lot of time).
There are people who know what I’m going to buy before I buy it based on tracking my spending habits. The electric company knows when I’m home and probably when I’m going to eat based on my refrigerator causing usage spikes. The water company knows when I poop. Presidential candidates know who I’m going to vote for based on Google searches, subscriptions, charitable donations, etc. (that’s how they know exactly how to properly gerrymander). Dating sites take your 1’s and 0’s and see how they mesh with other forlorn, exploitable lonely hearts. Marketers know just what ads to put in front of my eyes, what coupons to feed me, and how I medicate myself. It all leads to me being reduced to a series of data points, sucked up into a vortex of marketing.
It’s strange to be reduced to numbers and patterns, but also freeing. If the store already knows what I’m going to buy, maybe save me some time and have a basket ready for me when I get to the store. You know my search patterns, Google, so save me the trouble of typing–Oh, wait, they do. Maybe all these people digging into Wall Street data can just game out the next market crash so that we don’t all lose our retirement investments because some greedy bankers have found a way to dick around with other people’s money and dreams.
Decision making is very taxing. Even the most powerful people try to reduce their decisions. That’s why Steve Jobs had a closet full of one outfit, like a less-fun Pee-Wee Herman. So far this avalanche of data is only being used by marketers to pedal diapers and supplements, but it has the potential to do so much more, like tell me if my bathroom habits are regular or know if I’m eating too much garbage that’s going to lead to clogged arteries.
On one hand, I’m afraid to have my all of my bad habits laid out before me, to have my phone act like my nanny. On the other hand, I’m not doing so great on my own, so why not rush the Singularity a little bit. Do you hear me, The Borg, I want to be assimilated!