CoinDesk Live: Understanding Our Digital Personas Feat. Alex McDougall

“If we don’t fix the data paradigm...we don’t really have free will,” says Alex McDougall of Bicameral Ventures.

AccessTimeIconApr 21, 2020 at 7:38 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 10, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. UTC

Sign up to join the next CoinDesk Live on Thursday, April 23 at 4pm eastern time, as we dig into the legal battle for QuadrigaCX users with Magdalena Gronowska, QuadrigaCX Bankruptcy Board of Inspectors and a Committee Member of the Official Committee of Affected Users, hosted by CoinDesk editors Zack Seward and Nikhilesh De

Welcome to a reboot of CoinDesk Live: Lockdown Edition, a livestream series in which CoinDesk journalists and virtual audience members chat with speakers from Consensus: Distributed, our first virtual conference, set for May 11-15. 

For more episodes and free early access, subscribe with Apple PodcastsSpotifyPocketcastsGoogle PodcastsCastboxStitcherRadioPublicaIHeartRadio or RSS.

Our digital personas are becoming the primary way we interact with the world, particularly during this worldwide pandemic. But we only see a tiny bit of the information being captured while we’re online, and we rarely know for what our personal data is being used. While most free services are basically powered by the sale of our personal data, there’s no interface to help us understand what we actually look like to data collectors and their customers.

In this kickoff episode, CoinDesk journalist Bailey Reutzel speaks with Alex McDougall of Bicameral Ventures about the data trails we leave behind when we surf the internet, and how users can take back some control of that data.

Bailey and Alex discuss:

  • Free apps like House Party that collect our information
  • Project MetaMe, Alex’s single sign-on mechanism that brings back all the data on other platforms, allowing people to manage and even sell it themselves
  • Contract tracing, a necessary evil or just evil?
  • Is the Apple-Google solution the worst of all worlds, with an option to opt out as well as trusting mediocre data stewards? 
  • As health data is clearly valuable to Google, many people simply don’t trust Google with their health data
  • Pros and cons of these privacy tools such as DuckDuckGo, Brave Browser, Ghostery, Lockdown and Loginhood
  • The book “Surveillance Capitalism”
  • Dystopian Fiction
  • The book “Snow Crash”
  • zkSNARKS for data
  • How self-soverign meta-versions of ourselves might help protect us from “lizard brain” manipulation, by providing cleaner thinking versions of ourselves
  • The book Alex is working on, “The Lizard and the Machine: Maintaining Human Integrity at a Machine-Speed World”

Alex McDougall on Twitter: @AlexM_Bicameral

Bailey Reutzel on Twitter: @BLR13

Next up

Sign up to join the next CoinDesk Live on Tuesday, April 21, with Priyanka Desai and Aaron Wright from The Lao as we discuss for-profit DAOs.

Then join us at Consensus: Distributed May 11-15.

CoinDesk - Unknown
Join the conversation.

For more episodes and free early access before our regular 4 p.m. Eastern time releases, subscribe with Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocketcasts, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Stitcher, RadioPublica, IHeartRadio or RSS.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.