How has Google dodged data privacy issue? It's the ROI

Google outlined its vision of an AI driven future this week at Google I/O and the data privacy discussion is just starting. Don't forget the return on investment for you sharing data.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google's demonstration of Google Assistant making a call via a system called Duplex and conversing with a human showed us the future. Yet also raised a few issues about data privacy and disclosure. What's being lost is the cost-benefit analysis of allowing Google to access data to save you time.

Enter the data privacy angst and natural questions.

Google I/O this week was heavy on the artificial intelligence and vision of the future. As the event unfolded Tuesday, Zack Whittaker pointed out what wasn't said at Google I/O. The company didn't mention the Facebook data flap and didn't speak to privacy during the Google I/O keynote as it outlined Duplex. The omission was notable given that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella devoted a good chunk of his Build 2018 keynote to the topic.

In fact, Google has been mum as the Facebook data privacy flap unfolded. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went before Congress, but Google avoided all of that mess.

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Should we go crazy about Google's ability to collect data on us? Maybe not. Why? Our data is currency. Handing over data is no different than using real currency.

Simply put, the value in the data-service transaction needs to be considered. Without the return on data investment discussion we can go haywire on privacy.

Here's an illustration of why the Facebook and Google data privacy issues are materially different for me.

  • Facebook takes a lot of your data and knows a ton you. What do you get in return? Not much. You are the product and the return to you is better ad targeting. Facebook is a time vampire that doesn't offer you much beyond connecting with friends you likely wouldn't miss over time anyway. Facebook launches Clear History feature that should have been there all along
  • Google has just as much of your data if not more. Yet Google consistently gives you a return on that data sharing. Whether it's a helpful Google Assistant tidbit, unsolicited directions from Google Maps, a notification for your flight based on a Gmail entry and learning your screen habits over time, there's a return on your data. Am I thrilled Google knows so much about me? Not really. Do I get value for sharing my information? You bet.

That value for data sharing equation is huge. It's a nuance that can easily be lost amid the data privacy headlines. But as each individual starts taking stock of his or her data privacy that return on data equation will be pondered.

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