AI and your data, a bad romance


 Sean Parker, chairman of The Parker Foundation, discusses big tech’s data privacy problem.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has developed to the stage, where it’s capable of accumulating, cleaning up and performing computing on data that is out there, in the global network, to discover new insights. AI is already quite capable of natural language understanding, and this field will only be advancing and growing in the foreseen future, experts say.

The AI algorithms can learn from the data, a fact that is very disruptive for multiple industries and poses major legislation challenges – neither of which are keeping up with the change. Analysts from Gartner defined digital ethics and privacy as the top trends in technology space for 2019. With the advances of AI technology and its penetration into all daily operations, the boundaries of personal privacy are more and more unclear, and it is far from the interest area of the organizations that use AI features in their business model to police themselves in these matters.

Alexa is one of the best examples of the most popular AI products, developed by Amazon. Alexa, a conversational AI system, designed to be the right-hand to man is essentially melting into the human life. At the beginning not many noticed the personal space invasion, until the system didn’t make a number of mistakes, which have uncovered the not-so-striking fact: Alexa listens to its users after all. The case of Alexa sending a recording of a private conversation to a third party without the owner’s command or even consent boosted not only the discussions around the privacy, but also fostered growing paranoia towards the echo device. Amazon communicated to the stakeholders with just issuing a notion that Alexa activates every time she hears her name, however that did not shed much light on how the organization is planning to protect clients’ privacy or properly educated the users on how to avoid problems like that.

Specifically, smart devices are tapping deeper into the health sector, causing even larger concerns with privacy and security. At CES, Nokia introduced Nokia Sleep, an advanced connected device that can analyze sleep patterns and employ smart home integration control features to control lights or temperature settings, which could disrupt sleep. The Nokia app, which automatically synchronizes with the device, now integrates Amazon’s Alexa as well. Users can now have all health information in one place, including tracking sleep cycles, to make it easy to focus on health initiatives. One can only imagine how enormous the consequences could be in case of any leaks.

Provided the fact that ethics and privacy concerns are on the top of the technology agenda – it is sure the pressing issue and organizations, using AI in their operations, should get involved into the dialogue to address it. Communicating clearly and transparently on privacy matters forced by legislative means has proven to be not sufficient when it comes to privacy. This opens up room for organizations to be innovative and make sure their users’ privacy is guaranteed in all parties best interest.



Gartner Registration. (2019). Retrieved from

Ways to Build with Amazon Alexa. (2019). Retrieved from

Amazon has ‘no limit’ on how it can store and listen to private conversations, claims Sean Parker. (2019). Retrieved from

Nokia Sleep will turn off the lights and lower the temp as you fall asleep. (2019). Retrieved from