Here come our modern mind readers, bedecked with university degrees, puffing clouds of jargon and delivering wonders from newly discovered data mines.
“Instagram photos reveal predictive markers of depression” is the title of a paper [PDF link] claiming that “findings suggest new avenues for early screening and detection of mental illness.”
Oh, sure. It all seems like fun until somebody gets hurt.
There’s your data, with your name on it … YOU put it out there … easy for anyone to collect and then interpret in weird ways. Would someone attempt to assign you a diagnosis of mental illness, based on analysis of the photos you post? Sure, they would! Too many dull colours or not enough faces in your photos? Depression.
Employers sift you out. You can’t get a date on the online matchmaking service. Your insurance premiums go up and security agencies put you on the watch list. What could be wrong with that? Take your prescription and relax.
Making money in the data mines
There is a market for predictive analysis of individual behaviour … retailers, certainly, but also police, the courts, hiring services, landlords, lenders, transportation providers, social and medical services. It doesn’t matter if data-scan interpretations are as phoney as phrenology or palmistry. They come out of computers and seem “scientific”.
There need be no lack of jobs in the virtual economy. Bullshit Industries (BI) will continue to need fuel and maintenance. They will continue to output useful, saleable products.
Industries spawn more industries
For example: Suppose you opt out of social media and call attention to yourself that way? What kind of weirdo are you, with no online presence? So, simply subscribe to a fake identity service that shapes and styles your data vapour trail. Pennies per day. Small price for protection.
And so it goes.