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Wellness & Health
22 May 2019

A mandate for self sovereign data

There’s more data collected today than ever before, but the legal and technical ownership of that data is an increasingly complicated problem we need to solve to realise the web 3.0.

Angus Blair

By Angus Blair, CEO

Today we collect more and more data on the way we behave – how we exercise, eat and sleep is all being quantified, stored and shared. This becomes dangerous when governments seek to control its population using this data such as with the Social Credit system being trialed in China. This is also problematic when organisations who seek to profit from these data do so in ways that disrupt the fabric of society such as we’ve seen with Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and the Russian interventions in American politics.

This seems like a problem that’s baked into the foundation of modern life, so what should we do about it?

Self-Sovereignty

Users are realising that they should own and control their data – not just legally, but also technically. In the web 2.0, user data exists in enormous data lakes, ready to be dredged by machine learning algorithms and teams of data scientists. We don’t own this data – either legally, as we’ve given up our rights to it as part of some arcane End User Licence Agreement we didn’t read (and may not even be legally binding).

The next stage, the web 3.0 is for users to own their data, both legally and technically. Part of the ongoing development working towards web 3.0 is ongoing experimentation with a decentralised system of financial rewards based on user owned and controlled data. In particular, pro-social activity data should be prioritised. If we don’t, governments will create their own incentive structures for us to participate in regular exercise, adequate sleep, meditation and the like; potentially on terms which disadvantage some users, or exacerbate existing inequalities.

Trustlessness

The solution must be an open source framework; a network owned by its suers, with no central controller (other than the network itself) determining what is true or allowable. Any other solution simply moves the goal posts for the current framework, where new Facebooks and Cambridge Analyticas are able to grow.

The financial incentives that we (as society and as consumers) need to create is one huge optimisation problem. How can we incentivise people to do the things society wants them to do? How can we incentivise people to treat data ethically, and incentivise people to lead healthful lifestyles?

We don’t have all the answers – no-one does – and in fact, we recognise that there might not even be a stable solution to the problems we’re grappling with today. We’re starting though, and we’re trying to find solutions for the web 3.0 future.

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