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Data Revolution Newsletter – September 2023

Greetings people! Welcome to the frontlines of the Data Revolution. Here is the September 2023 newsletter.

Stuff

Governance

This month I have been thinking about how we need to adapt our policy and governance to AI speed and scale. There is a quote from Kent Aitken (Aitken, K. (2017, May 23) that I have long kept in mind:

“Complexity is a defining feature of the digital era, and we are not adjusting our governance structures to manage it. Just the opposite, in some ways: as authority and information became distributed and hyperconnected, the pressure towards centralized decision-making and message control became stronger. Meanwhile, governments have grown in size and scope, and the overlap between portfolios has grown as well, and accordingly so has the scope for individual managers. What hasn’t grown is the time, tools or resources to deal with boundaryless problems implicating many stakeholders. This question will be at the root of open government and digital government initiatives.”

The sad thing is I do not think the situation has improved much since 2017. In fact, I think that we in the data and analytics community are facing a crisis of governance for the new and exciting world of AI that we are entering. Our tools and concepts for data governance are still stuck in the last century. Many organisations were already struggling to establish data governance before Generative AI burst on the scene and caught everyone’s attention.

Most of our tools for managing data governance are only just starting to be able to do things like autonomously discover and classify data. But that is just like a baby starting to crawl. Increasingly we need to ensure that our AI operations are happening at scale and autonomously and ensuring that our data are approved and correct for that particular use.

Please do let me know here if come across any modern data governance tools.

Data minimisation

The other thing that has been on my mind lately is data minimisation. Most organisations are dreadful data hoarders. We often do not just collect that data which we actually need, instead we collect much more than we need. And now data, which we have spoken of for years as an asset, is now also a liability. In a recent hack a third-party held data for nine years and that personal information was breached and is now on the dark web (Burt, Jemima. “Thousands of Donors to Australian Charities, Including Cancer Council and Canteen, Have Data Leaked to Dark Web – ABC News.” ABC News Australia, August 23, 2023. https://amp-abc-net-au.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.abc.net.au/article/102757194). This is not good for anyone. Organisations need to start putting in contractual clauses for third-parties, e.g. suppliers, to undertake data minimisation activities. And they will also need to start doing the same thing for themselves. I suspect our cyber insurers are going to be asking questions about this kind of thing in the not-too-distant future.

Links

Following are some interesting things I’ve found. The first one is the full article from the Aitken quote above ☝️

Podcast Episodes

  • Mark Pesce was kind enough to be my first guest. He is a polymath, and inventor and very smart human. We had a great chat about AI and how it changes everything.
  • I also did an episode where I talked about the imperative for data protection.

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