A salary in exchange for our data, new economic system proposed by a researcher from IMDEA Networks

February 19, 2020

Data and the economy stemming from them are the engine for the fourth industrial revolution. However, and according to Nikolaos Laoutaris, there is a very important leading player who currently receives absolutely nothing of the huge profits generated by the activity: the people who provide these data. Only in a very few cases do the humans producing data receive a measly compensation in kind for it: free online services.

The idea of an economy based on data generators charging for giving their data to companies was proposed by scientist, author, and artist Jaron Lanier in his book Who Owns the Future. In his article in IEEE Internet Computing, Laoutaris develops the idea and explains that he and his team at the IMDEA Networks Institute are now working to build the algorithms, systems and software so that financial compensation for data becomes a reality. Laoutaris advocates that suitable monetary payment would be the solution for some of the most serious problems that we as a society will face in the immediate future.

Every person receiving financial compensation for the data they produce would be - according to the IMDEA Networks researcher - 'an alternative to receiving a salary for labour, when in the future the majority of work will be done by machines'. Some analyses have concluded, continues Laoutaris in his article, 'that a family of four could earn up to 20,000 dollars (some 18,000 euros) a year for its data'.

The IMDEA Networks researcher stresses that the system would have huge benefits for privacy protection. Given that data collection is currently free, companies grab all data within their reach indiscriminately and without knowing whether or not they are useful. If they had to pay for this information, states Nikolaos Laoutaris, there would indeed be discrimination, as they would only compile data they were going to use: 'paying for data' - explains the researcher - 'exercises economic pressure on the companies to apply the minimisation principle'.

Not only this, the obligation of remuneration in exchange for data would lead to the disappearance of 'parasitic' companies that currently compile lists of anything and everything 'from alleged alcoholics to people who are HIV positive'. These services, also according to the researcher, create 'enormous risks to privacy'. 'Providing financial compensation for data will let internet companies acquire higher-quality data. The better data will in turn increase their revenues because they will be more useful for their users.' The idea of paying for data has already aroused the interest of several sector leaders, including Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

In his article, the researcher acknowledges that the transition from the current economy to a system in which paying for data is not only an obligation, but the primordial economic engine, is not simple, but he claims it is possible: 'Laying the foundations for this new economy and leading with the scalability challenges for calculating payments is only the tip of the iceberg on the road to making a human-centric data economy a reality.' However, in Laoutaris' opinion, the option is viable and he even proposes a model for getting it started: 'A small sample of visionaries is needed, people who are aware of the benefits of the new focus (moderation of disputes between privacy and utility, encouraging users to share more data, etc.) and are using it as a feature to stand out from their competitors. If they are successful, there will be more companies that adopt this practice and, in the end, it will be become a common system.'
-end-
About Nikolaos Laoutaris

Research professor at IMDEA Networks since December 2018. Laoutaris is a doctor of computational sciences from the University of Athens (Greece) and worked as a researcher at Harvard University and Boston University. His areas of research centre on privacy, transparency and data protection; the network and information economy; smart transport; distributed systems and network protocols and traffic measurements.

About IMDEA Networks

IMDEA Networks is an independent institute promoted by the Community of Madrid to conduct research on data networks, an area in which it has become an international leader. Its researchers work at fine-tuning technologies and principles in the most cutting-edge technological fields: 5G, big data, blockchains, cloud computing, content distribution networks, data analytics, energy efficient networks, edge computing, indoor positioning systems, Internet of Things, machine learning, millimetre-wave networking, network economy, etc.

IMDEA Networks Institute

Related Data Articles from Brightsurf:

Keep the data coming
A continuous data supply ensures data-intensive simulations can run at maximum speed.

Astronomers are bulging with data
For the first time, over 250 million stars in our galaxy's bulge have been surveyed in near-ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light, opening the door for astronomers to reexamine key questions about the Milky Way's formation and history.

Novel method for measuring spatial dependencies turns less data into more data
Researcher makes 'little data' act big through, the application of mathematical techniques normally used for time-series, to spatial processes.

Ups and downs in COVID-19 data may be caused by data reporting practices
As data accumulates on COVID-19 cases and deaths, researchers have observed patterns of peaks and valleys that repeat on a near-weekly basis.

Data centers use less energy than you think
Using the most detailed model to date of global data center energy use, researchers found that massive efficiency gains by data centers have kept energy use roughly flat over the past decade.

Storing data in music
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for embedding data in music and transmitting it to a smartphone.

Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.

Geoscience data group urges all scientific disciplines to make data open and accessible
Institutions, science funders, data repositories, publishers, researchers and scientific societies from all scientific disciplines must work together to ensure all scientific data are easy to find, access and use, according to a new commentary in Nature by members of the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee.

Democratizing data science
MIT researchers are hoping to advance the democratization of data science with a new tool for nonstatisticians that automatically generates models for analyzing raw data.

Getting the most out of atmospheric data analysis
An international team including researchers from Kanazawa University used a new approach to analyze an atmospheric data set spanning 18 years for the investigation of new-particle formation.

Read More: Data News and Data Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.