Increasing aggregation of data on a few platforms is likely to result in the emergence of new monopolies which control data, the former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, Nandan Nilekani, who crafted the Aadhaar plan for identifying Indian residents, said at a discussion on ‘How Data Analytics and Automation will transform India’.
“I am deeply concerned that data is going to create a new set of monopolists and a whole new model of colonisation,” Nilekani who championed the creation of unique identification numbers based on biometric data to enable direct transfers of government benefits to citizens said at an event on Tuesday.
Nilekani was discussing the impact of a world driven by big data analytics on jobs, policies, corporates, governments and individuals with the former chief data scientist to former US President Barack Obama, Dhanurjay ‘DJ’ Patil, at an event organised by the education start up UpGrad.
“Aggregation of data in a few concentrated platforms is actually a big risk. You end up with data monopoly. With more data and better machine learning you get more customers,” Nilekani said in a warning that big tech companies can farm big data for profits by gathering it without consent via platforms used for transactions or communications by people. There is a need to for new data policies in India to give individuals control over the usage of their data by corporations or governments, Nilekani said. “A big part of public policy discussions around the world is on having a regime where data is portable, shared and yours. We do not have anything like this in India. So, we can think of a fresh policy,” Nandan Nilekani said.
The former chief data scientist in the Obama administration, Patil, warned that companies were gathering data on people without their consent. The data could be in the form of satellite images, online pictures or documents which could be of value to a financial institution or someone else to assess an individual, he said. “This is where a very strong policy would help. India has an opportunity to learn from things that we did not do,” the former chief data scientist said. Artificial intelligence and automation would have a big impact on jobs in the IT industry like the testing of software code, ‘DJ’ Patil said.