An interesting article on the Telegraph site, ‘Advertising is getting personal‘, about how companies are better utilising technology to track customers and offer them an improved service.

Of course, companies have always tried to do this but with more powerful technology at cheaper prices, the amount and type of information they can gather increases.

‘Railroaded’ uses this idea by having corporations track and measure their customers and employees to the minutest of detail with every object having a small microchip emitting data multiple times per second giving a real-time picture of almost everything from actual people and their personal interactions to a sweet wrapper or a pair of glasses.

Working with websites, I learnt that the kind of real-time stats you can get is extremely useful, getting this kind of data in the real world would bring huge benefits…if the data’s privacy can be trusted and controlled.

The article talks about microchips in Nike trainers giving the user stats about their running and, maybe more importantly, giving Nike more info about their customers.  A talk by ‘Michio Kaku‘ on ‘TED‘ mentioned how expensive paper was when it was first created and how much cheaper it is today and then made the comparison to microchips.  All technology becomes exponentially cheaper as time goes on, one day putting microchips into everything including disposable items such as packaging will be commonplace, it has to be.  How can the competition compete when they don’t know what’s happening to every part of their product during its whole lifecycle?

In Railroaded, this incredible amount of data is so useful bringing with it massive efficiencies, that the UK has zero income tax, surviving purely on business taxes and a smaller state brought about by increased corporate pressures to privatise.  The problem with zero taxes becomes less ownership felt by the citizenship and therefore less participation, leaving the way clear for companies to ‘railroad’ things through to their own advantage.

The dilemma today and into the future is, where do we draw the line?  I really don’t mind if my carton of milk is being measured and tracked but I do if it’s personalised and shared.  There has to be an acceptable balance between personal privacy and making financial efficiences from this improved information.  This line will be ever shifting as people, companies, governments and generations get used to the technology surrounding them.

Some people will get used to it better and faster than others – www.pleaserobme.com.

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