Has this ever happened to you? You think of a scrumptious tres leche cake while taking a stroll through a market. Then, the very next day, your Facebook and Instagram feed is suggesting to you the nearest dessert shops you visit right that instant. It is eerie, and I personally have rechecked my account security and app permissions every time it happens. Now, we all know that apps record our data, then use it to personalize ads and generate revenue. But, as a person who values her freedom of thought, I maintain that this data gathering should be limited to what we do on the app. And the data shouldn’t be sold to those with corporate interests. My thoughts and future actions are not fair game for corporate open season. But recent advances in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, which integrates cognitive activity with a computer, challenge me.
The optimists have seen the brighter side of this issue as well. According to The Guardian; Facebook announced in 2017 that it would be investing in the development of non-invasive, wearable BCI that would allow Facebook users to “type with their brains”. Now, I have only one question. What the hell? Sure, it would be a miracle for differently-abled people who suffer from sensory impairment. But are they using Facebook? Do we have the option to make it selectively applicable by choice?
Surveillance Capitalism, they call it. Racially and Economically motivated police state, I counter. It is not only products these algorithms predict, but it is also the behaviors, thought patterns, mind maps and much more. It is persecution over future crimes, it is stalking of innocent before they have even been guilty. But how far is far enough? Shouldn’t it be our authority to opt-out of these data collection schemes if we so wish? Isn’t it disturbing that these corporate stooges know our suicidal ideation, psychological crises, and intentions of altruism before our closest friends and family members and in some cases, even we ourselves do? Who checks this abuse of power and information? Who stops this invasion of privacy? Who is responsible for these corporations run amok? Who do we call? Ghostbusters? Go figure.