The Tracking Economy

I offer no advice at all, just my impression of things I’ve seen.

We have the Tech Big Five: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. They all have one thing in common — tracking. They are all trying to monetize tracking and assessing human behavior with technology, particularly networking behavior.

Microsoft gives away their newest OS in exchange for tracking. They expect to make a profit on that. Google tracks more ways than even the NSA could, and they do make a profit on that. Amazon is more careful about it than Google, but uses a more pervasive technology, in that a huge portion of the stuff served over the Net comes from their massive collection of servers rented out to others. Amazon tracking is more abstract. Apple relentlessly tracks their own users, which is a bigger portion of humanity than you might think. Facebook feeds on tracking like no other service, and is by far the most intrusive, sneaky and personal about it.

Even big cyber crime is now all about “stealing” data sets, and not just credit card numbers.

There are other, smaller players, but you should get the picture: This is the new product line on the Internet. Insofar as they are concerned, it’s “you” they own and are selling to some third party. And while for now it seems the whole purpose is selling you to their business partners for data that shapes ever more intrusive and manipulative advertising, that’s no longer the main point. There is something in the tracking and profiling itself that exposes you in other ways.

Granted, we who live heart-led are nearly impossible for them to track in any useful fashion; it’s the tracking of all those who are not heart-led that poses some kind of threat. Even if we stand out as some notable anomaly, they can quantify that for their own purposes. The difficult thing right now is that, not only am I unable to give a full report of their purposes, but even they could not. For the time being, getting us used to the tracking is the most important issue, because they can always implement new forms of it later. They know how it’s useful right now, but they know this thing has far more potential only starting to unfold.

That’s because the biggest use of tracking will come with more advanced AI. The massive data set of human tracking is part of what will shape the AI they hatch. Whatever threat AI holds, I submit that the biggest problem is that their work in AI will hatch something utterly lacking in any moral sense at all. AI won’t suffer from the hard-wired inhibitions and blind-spots that hinder humans. So while the people involved in this tracking and AI development can’t guess in full what they’ll get, they have no doubt they’ll find a way to profit, likely in terms that don’t have any meaning yet. I’m willing to bet they are right about that, though I suspect there will be some other surprises, too.

The tracking has already gotten to the point where the data quantifies those who never touch the Net, as well. That in itself becomes a tracking factor, and the presence of those offline is betrayed secondhand. Refusing to use Facebook won’t keep you out of Zuckerberg’s clutches. So there’s not a lot we can do about that part any more. Even a very intelligent and purposeful paranoia is pointless. We have all been compromised already. Despite having a radically different approach in terms of moral purpose, and that we are learning to react from the heart first, most of us still engage the system in ways that permit a certain amount of tracking.

Even hiding behind the shield-wall of Linux pegs me somewhere in their system. I suspect it marks me as something they need to ignore for most uses so that my actions don’t taint their data set. In a few cases, I suppose it tags me with a certain level of suspicion, though it’s not the kind of thing anyone could act on just now. You’ll notice that I am ignoring the boundary between corporation and state — that’s because I think it’s fading into meaninglessness. I consider the corporations a bigger threat, insofar as there is a threat.

You take it from here.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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2 Responses to The Tracking Economy

  1. BJ says:

    Today, by the grace of God, I stumbled across your words of wisdom. Being a Christian my whole life, I truly wondered if I were the only person whom saw the world and reality for what it truly is. You speak to my soul. When I began reading, I felt as if you had been inside my head for years. God is so great and people need to see things how God intends for them to be seen. Keep doing what you do. You’ve inspired me. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ed Hurst says:

    And your words of encouragement are a great comfort, BJ. You confirm that what I consider the Divine Presence of Our Creator inside my head is more than mere imagination. Thanks for allowing me to serve you this way, because it’s the reason I keep on breathing.


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