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
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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.

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Disclosure

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

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.


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