Established just two and a half years ago, the Human Data Commons Foundation aims to address two primary questions: how do we make the best decisions around the best and most powerful sources of data available to us, and how do we put structures in place that encourage people to share their data in a way that protects their privacy and places them at the center of agency in how that data gets used?
“Companies realize that the more data they have, the better machine learning algorithms they can produce…and that brings with it enormous power…and enormous peril…there’s a lot of systemic injustice that can be perpetuated through these…and our intention at the foundation is to bring more attention to that,” says Scott Nelson, founder, and chair of the Human Data Commons Foundation.
One way in which they’re doing this is by publishing annual “report cards” that review data usage, privacy policies, terms of service, and the amount of agency given to users by the top companies in wearable technology such as Fitbit. The ultimate goal is to democratize, make more transparent, and advance human consciousness and conscious evolution through the responsible and ethical use of data.
Nelson touches on a variety of topics, including the main challenges to the implementation of new structures and processes in established company cultures, the role of blockchain technology in personal data protection, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and how a couple of German projects could pave the way for the implementation of open-source, ethical data platforms in the U.S.