Continued Privacy Worries That Could Eradicate Predictive Analytics
Everybody knows what a credit score is, and what it's used for. We're also aware that a person's credit history — the combination of data elements that feed the sophisticated models and algorithms that make up our credit score — can and regularly do contain errors. To remedy this in the U.S., we can readily examine our credit reports and use a carefully regulated process to correct erroneous information held by credit bureaus.
As far as data privacy goes, most of us generally understand what opting in and opting out means. Every day, most of us are presented with at least one decision to allow or prevent an entity from collecting a little, or a lot, of data about us. But there are other kinds of scores — these alternative scores — being widely used today.
Some are used for things that make sense to most of us. They're increasingly adept at determining whether someone will commit fraud, cheat on their taxes, engage in criminal activity or become ensnared in terrorist propaganda leading to sometimes horrifying results. Protecting ourselves from these behaviors by finding them before they happen seems at worst a necessary evil, and at best a welcome safeguard.
Yet some other alternative models are used to predict other kinds of things, and could be considered a little creepy.
Maybe you're OK if data about what food you buy, how much you weigh and some key details of your family health history are combined to produce a score that says you're on the bullet train to diabetes. But maybe you're not — especially if that information somehow interferes with your ability to get or keep a particular job.
Maybe as a senior manager at Hewlett-Packard you're thrilled to have access to the company's "Flight Risk Score," which identifies employees who are at risk of leaving their jobs, which would leave you with a big, productivity-crushing hole in your senior team. But what if you're the employee, and you suddenly realize your company is keeping track of your raises, changes in position, performance evaluations and is synthesizing them into a nice, neat predictive score on you?