The debate on the value of big data is increasingly current. Our association has already dealt with this issue, which is currently interrogating many scholars all over the world, also with a view to the construction of mechanisms for the reallocation of resources that are fairer and just compared to those that seem to dominate the current production scenarios of the digital economy. The problem, wanting to trivialize and make usable what we are dealing with, is the following: big data are now an indisputable source of value. The private subjects who hold these precious mountains of information on the citizens of the world, are able to sell these goods, deriving enormous profits. At the same time, the workers employed by the digital giants are very few, because the mechanisms that allow the management and marketing of data are easily controlled by the machines. Another effect of this process of value shifting is that individuals whose data are contained in the goods do not receive in any way an adequate income return, deriving from this presence.
All this appears to be clearly unfair, where it is reflected on the fact that most of the big data require close human collaboration in order to be created. In other words, both by means of behavior that are not finalistically oriented to their cataloging, or through interaction with questionnaires, researches or other detection tools, citizens produce value through the externalization and re-elaboration of information concerning them, but they obtain the crumbs, compared to those who own capital and technology in order to exchange and market these data.
The big data of the rest are essentially flows of information coming from the most disparate sources, able – if analyzed and classified with expertise – to provide the observer with precise reading keys to interpret the apparent information entropy that characterizes contemporaneity.
This sea of information, apparently meaningless and incapable of generating value, can in fact be used to assess social trends, evolutions and requests for products and services and therefore hide a treasure that many try to take hold of. While the classification of profiles, tastes, purchases of all users and consumers who manage to be registered in the data containers increases dramatically, the IOT (Internet of Things) is preparing to subvert the concept of object definitively, projecting the ‘whole humanity in the civilization of avatars. With the close interaction of the value allocated to things, capable of being at the same time tools to support normal human activities, but also a means of detecting economically assessable behavior, big data will reveal fully, more than they have already done so, their enormous economic attractiveness and will become the object of real commercial wars, not unlike what in the past, or even in the present, we have observed, when it came to grab raw materials, minerals, deposits of fossil fuels.
Managing this huge amount of information, ensuring that the citizens who are the subject, are at the same time subject to the rights and benefits of value that today only enjoy the entities capable of marketing data, is a specific task of the lawyers who want to do policy. Even in this sector, unfortunately, the technique seems to allow the power to allocate and store resources in an unfair manner, without taking into account the rights of users, consumers, which in the case of big data must necessarily be considered as producers. The role of politics and of the state becomes indispensable if we want to defend a patrimony of common resources, preventing the appropriation of a few. The most advanced smart cities projects, including Singapore and Barcelona, already provide that the administration of the connection and exchange centers that are fundamental for the life of the local communities is entrusted in part to the analysis of big data. Electronic cards that govern the relationships between citizens and administration continuously elaborate improvement strategies based on big data, optimizing multiple management processes, from those related to office hours to the periodization of watering cans for green areas, not to mention the organization of means of transport, based on constantly updated studies of the actual needs of users’ mobility.
Developing public operational models based on big data can therefore be an excellent way to counter the phenomena of hoarding by private individuals, but without adequate legislation that enhances the individual, little can be done. To put the citizen at the center of this new frontier of value storage, we need a profoundly humanistic legal definition of what is happening in the field of digital economy and sharing. The on demand economy is increasingly nourished by contingent analysis processes, which intercept short-term flows and trends, maximize its market value, and then convert back to sectors that envisage new and more appealing profit margins. The static models of entrepreneurship, which do not conform to the observation of the masses and the apparent chaos that characterizes them, give way to those who are able to read these realities and the balance of this transformation, in terms of widespread welfare , it seems unfortunately always to turn to the negative. This is bad for our society, especially if the policy will continue to be passive towards the evolution of technology, giving up the definition of profit margins with legislation that is adequate for the protection of the community.
Managing big data as tools at the service of society can play a decisive role in curbing the loss of value generated by sectoral and systemic crises of the classical economy and mass employment. The reconversion processes capable of intercepting value can not disregard the understanding of the social trends that surround the service provider. Elements such as marketing, the choice of the highest performing sector, the ability to transform lost cultural backgrounds into bases for the provision of higher added value services, end up by supplanting the same technical training as a factor capable of generating wealth . In other words, understanding what and to whom to offer, can make the difference between a profitable operating model and a loser, even more than the asphyxiated and static operational skills, disconnected from the understanding of the demands of the social groups in which it operates. In this sense, access to big data will therefore become increasingly important to differentiate operators able to realize value, because in the absence of an understanding of this phenomenon, it will become increasingly difficult to operate profitably for medium-long periods.
Allow a gap to large giants, able to store, process, dispose and sell the most attractive databases, without worrying about the inequalities and operational asymmetries that the inertia of the legislator can favor in this sector, is likely to cause incalculable damage to the digital economy of the next few years.
Avv. Salvatore Lucignano