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A Data Scientist Visits The Magic Kingdom, Sans Privacy 124

Posted by timothy
from the it-puts-the-wristband-on-its-wrist dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MailChimp Chief Data Scientist [John Foreman] is at Disney World this weekend wearing his RFID-equipped MagicBand. Here's how he thinks the practice of digitally tracking consumers in the physical world will reach everywhere from theme parks to our homes." Foreman's conclusion (and headline) — shades of Scott McNeally's famous "Get over it" — is "You don't want your privacy." That seems to miss the mark, at least for me: I don't mind parceling out certain kinds of information (like whether I like to buy decaf at Starbucks, or how long the wait is to ride Space Mountain), in contexts of my own choosing, but that's much different from being snooped on by the NSA or other state actors in other contexts.
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A Data Scientist Visits The Magic Kingdom, Sans Privacy

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  • by plover (150551) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:34PM (#46008077) Homepage Journal

    Even if you don't care today, others are using data mining techniques to learn from those innocuous facts.

    They know that coffee beans are decaffeinated using chemicals that cause cancer, and if they correlate that to an increased risk in cancer, they might increase your health insurance rates. And because people who drink decaf are statistically less alert and therefore more likely to get into car accidents than coffee drinkers, they're going to raise your car insurance rates, too.

    Everybody has something to hide, even if the facts don't seem relevant to your well being today.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:36PM (#46008091)

    And Doctrow is a better writer. Damn that was painful to wade through.

    Anyway, back to the point, I don't care if Starbucks knows that I haven't shopped there for a month and decides to entice me back with a 50% off coupon for a latte. I choose if I want to purchase something from Starbucks.

    I care if the government is collecting information on me because the government can put me in prison.

  • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:40PM (#46008131) Homepage

    A lot of coffee is decaffeinated by water (Swiss water process).

    Plus I kind of think that doing risky behaviour *should* increase your premiums (and reduce everyone else's of course).
    Next you'll be wanting smokers to get the same health insurance premiums as non-smokers.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:47PM (#46008185)

    Next you'll be wanting smokers to get the same health insurance premiums as non-smokers.

    I do. Insurance shouldn't be about finding people devoid of risk and only insuring them.

  • Re:Fuck you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:16PM (#46008759) Homepage Journal

    how much do you value the privacy of what kind of coffee you drink ?

    do you value it as much as the things a loved one might tell you in bed at night ?

    That's kind of a nonsensical question. Assuming that someone reading Slashdot understands what can be accomplished through the collection of seemingly trivial and unconnected data, of course.

    Would you rather die of cancer or blunt trauma? Would you rather your child or grandchild be killed?

    Having some "data scientist", who, let's face it, makes him living advising corporations on how to collect and use data, tell us, "You don't want your privacy" is rather insulting. I could tell him "You don't want your big toe" because he'd probably rather lose a toe than an arm. Either way, it's a loss.

    If you can keep someone distracted enough to never realize that they're really not getting any benefit from all the data that's being collected about them, then it's a big win for the corporate and government elite. But it's still a loss. When you lose your privacy, there's no getting it back. This is a one-way street of no return and it deserves more serious evaluation than some technocrat jackoff at Disneyland.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:21PM (#46008803)

    Plus I kind of think that doing risky behaviour *should* increase your premiums (and reduce everyone else's of course).

    I never understood that argument. You guys argue that people who have insurance should pay their premiums in proportion to how likely they are to use it. You consider that the fairest possible payment system. However, if you take that to its logical conclusion, you should only charge people who actually end up using it. So you should go ahead and eliminate insurance altogether, and you have the fairest model possible: only people who get into car accidents pay the costs, only people who get sick pay medical costs, only people who get robbed suffer their losses.

    The entire point of insurance is to make the payment unfair in order to diminish the payment by spreading the risk among everyone. You agree to pay something, even though you hope to never have to cash in on the insurance, so that if you do have to cash in, everybody else who doesn't need to cash in subsidizes you, and you pay less. You do this for peace of mind. What you should want isn't to pay commensurate to your risk, you should want everybody to pay equal rates, which will result in the lowest possible premium for everyone. If you determine that premium is too high for your risk level, that should mean you think your risk level is low enough to go without insurance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:28PM (#46008875)

    I might be okay with my favorite coffee shop (not a Starbucks) knowing what my usual is and getting started on it when I walk in the door each morning.

    Hey, my favorite coffee place (also not a Starbucks) already does this, based on the fact that the barista knows who I am (zero computerized databases necessary) --- that thing called "friendly customer service" that places like Starbucks are trying to fake with heavily automated systems and poorly-treated employees. If you need a global-mega-tracking-DB to make customers feel welcome, you're already doing something seriously wrong.

  • Re:Fuck you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frobnicator (565869) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:24AM (#46011159) Journal

    Indeed there is a great amount of privacy we should demand.

    I'll start with his conclusion first, then with one of his Disney examples.

    He claims we really don't want our privacy even in our homes because it is the future. Interesting.

    It is odd how he concludes that we ultimately will be giving "all our info" to everyone, including random strangers on the Internet in exchange for a flashlight app. Would he mind if his job performance information (and those of his co-workers) are publicly shared? Perhaps he has always been a stellar employee and doesn't mind that becoming public. What about if his family's medical records become public knowledge, that is part of "all our info". perhaps again he is a rare individual with nothing he cares to hide in his family; nobody has a mental illness, nobody has reproductive issues, nobody had a tumor or other problem that could affect him or his children for seven generations.

    Or taking it further, since he is willing to share "all our info" for his family with everyone online, what if we installed webcams in his bathroom, broadcasting every angle of the toilet and shower featuring his wife and daughters? Or cameras in his marriage bed? He plainly states he doesn't care about the privacy of himself or his family, so why not?

    Moving on to the middle of TFA, he details about high-spending visitors should be given preferential treatment when waiting in line in order to encourage additional money extraction through entertainment. What he blissfully fails to notice is the flip side of the coin: everyone else gets screwed by this model.

    Sure, if you are the wealthy people targeted for money extraction you will have entertainers making sure you have the time of your life. If you are the commoner spending an average amount of money your experience will decrease from the present level. And if you are not exactly wealthy but taking your family on a once-in-a-lifetime entertainment retreat, well, sucks to be you under the new model.

    If he doesn't see the difference between a per-instance transaction of specific information versus a wholesale surrender of "all our info", he is a fool.

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