Data ownership is leading the next tech megacycle

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André Vellozo Contributor

André Vellozo is a Brazilian businessman, cybernetician, inventor, and advocate for data ownership rights. He is the founder and CEO of Palo Alto, California-based DrumWave.

Brett King is an Australian futurist, best-selling author of “Bank 4.0” and “Augmented” and co-founder of Moven, the first U.S. mobile neobank. He served as an adviser to the Obama administration on the future of banking, and President Xi has cited his book “Augmented.”

Unsurprisingly, the next megacycle in tech is blossoming in Brazil. The fast-rising region’s ecosystem has matured since 2012, leading to unprecedented legislative reform, tech innovation, and a massive rise in global investments.

Like the classic advice “follow the money,” the last major tech shifts from computing, telephony, internet, and mobile advances have evolved in parallel to more advanced payment methods that helped consumers and businesses capitalize on them. The world is shifting from software to data — the lifeblood of training AI.

The convergence of Big Tech, finance, and government has enabled a new data economy. While AI is considered the next big thing, it’s only part of the story because data is the “oil” that fuels AI. The first movement in the megacycle was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when the EU championed data privacy in 2016. Brazil stepped up and created comparative data privacy rights and is investing heavily in data infrastructure and regulation to enable citizens to capitalize on their personal data.

Many of the billions of dollars in AI investments have come from tech giants led by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Much of that money is returning to those strategic corporate investors in the charges they bill back for access to their expensive cloud platforms.

There’s a brewing “cog in the wheel” for Big Tech companies and others — from biotech and healthcare innovators to large banks, big brands and their marketing agencies, and even governments — as the mostly free access to our collective personal data will likely dry up by the late 2020s: The same data that powers our AI systems that we collectively produce in droves needs to be monetized, monitored, and curated.

Yet, a new data-sharing system that disperses ownership and control of that mission-critical data to everyday citizens could create new models upon which startups can innovate. Our data could power an entirely new data economy that could benefit every person who participates in it or not, based on their decision-making.

In brief, the unrestricted use of personal data is ending. And it’s leading to the next megacycle.

Data privacy will evolve into data ownership rights in 2024

Our data could power an entirely new data economy that could benefit every person who participates in it or not, based on their decision-making.

The next tech megacycle — one in which everyday citizens worldwide own and control their personal data that powers AI — began about a year before the global COVID pandemic. In early 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s essay in Time magazine calling for a landmark package of reforms to protect and empower consumers helped spark a cultural and legislative shift away from unrestrained access and harvesting of our personal data. Apple has committed to much more sustainable business operations moving into 2030, so we see an attempt at better aligning one of the world’s most valuable tech brands with clear and compelling social responsibility.

Concerning these issues, Cook wrote: “In 2019, it’s time to stand up for the right to privacy — yours, mine, all of ours. Consumers shouldn’t have to tolerate another year of companies irresponsibly amassing huge user profiles, data breaches that seem out of control, and the vanishing ability to control our own digital lives.”

Since then, more data-privacy regulations have emerged, and the ability to track consumers’ shopping habits and preferences has diminished. Some of the world’s most progressive thinkers, such as California governor Gavin Newsom, have called for various forms of a “new data dividend” that will provide a framework for everyday citizens to garner value or monetary compensation for their data they could trade with various organizations.

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