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The Human Algorithm

In a world moving rapidly towards the singularity, we are a humanity divided. Some welcome the future of an augmented humanity built on data – some fear it. This fear often stems from the lack of control some foresee we may face in a world where data is generated, stored and used at an aggressively exponential rate.

But in the wake of new regulatory challenges, the industry must address consumer concerns over the lack of trust and transparency in the way data and insights are used before we are ready to embrace a data-fuelled society.

This starts with putting customers back in control of their data to address concerns over consumer privacy and control. The goal? Drive greater loyalty and establish a clearer data-value exchange that will underpin our future.

After all, a data-fuelled society has the incredible potential to enrich lives, transforming transport systems, improving agriculture, reducing energy consumption, democratising education, and even saving lives.

Aggregated crowd data has been used to reduce pollution by optimising transport networks, helping businesses and governments make better infrastructure investments. But it goes further than that.

Mobile data insights can deliver surprising benefits, from providing access to financial services for unbanked customers without a credit score using machine learning, through to helping NGOs manage epidemics like Zika using anonymous crowd movements.

Yet the misuse of this data is damaging trust, and endangering these benefits. We all need to get better at sharing these positive data stories, and delivering value for our customers with or through their data. We’re just at the start of this journey, and progress will depend on consumers taking back control of their data.

John Foster, Strategy Director (Chief Data Office), Telefonica