The price paid to enjoy AI’s full benefits may well be your privacy

To get the most out of future applications of AI, you'll have to put a lot of your personal data in the hands of companies.

To get the most out of future applications of AI, you'll have to put a lot of your personal data in the hands of companies. Photo: Getty

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a bigger part of our everyday lives – but to get the most out of it, you’ll have to be willing to abandon your sense of privacy.

Speaking at customer platform Hubspot’s annual Inbound conference, Hubspot CEO Yamini Rangan said customers have reached the stage where they expect services and conversations to be tailored for them based on information they have previously made available across different channels.

“So personalised is templated: ‘Hello, First Name,’ is not going to cut it anymore,” Rangan said.

“Personal is tailored; [customers] expect insights that are specific to them.”

HubSpot chief customer officer Rob Giglio told TND home applications of AI could also soon be considered standard.

“If you have a fully connected home, when a light bulb goes out, I’m not going to fumble around to figure out which kind of light bulb went in that socket, and where do you go get it. It’s going to be happening in a far more automated way,” he said.

“If you think about apparel, I think outfitting is the kind of thing that AI will have a huge impact on. It will understand my wardrobe and my tastes, and it can be busy browsing sites when I’m not around, looking for things that will work well in my wardrobe, like colours and styles and sizes and prices [so] I don’t have to ‘go shopping’.

“Things will be curated and available to me and I think, for a lot of people, that will be really exciting.”

But having AI tailor services and information specifically to you, whether in a business or personal setting, means you’ll have to provide a lot of background information first.

That could be a red flag for people concerned with privacy, especially after major data hacks on Medibank and Optus last year saw millions of Australians at increased risk of identity theft and scams, and many victims’ personal health information become publicly available.

Balance of give and take with AI

Hubspot chief people officer Katie Burke told TND that companies need to be transparent with consumers about what the latter will be giving up, and what they’ll get in exchange.

“And you [should] as an average consumer, not an attorney … understand what data is stored, what’s kept and for how long,” she said.

While there have been calls for companies to minimise data collection to protect consumers, Giglio said when information is used responsibly, consumers will ultimately benefit from companies storing their data.

“My sense around the world is that even in some of the most restrictive countries around privacy, end-consumers are happy and satisfied when their information is used to make their life better,” he said.

“If there’s a way to make your life better in almost any way, people want that.

“And it’s really the cost-to-benefit trade-off; how much information do I have to give to get how much benefit?”

data breaches

The 2022 Optus and Medibank hacks put the spotlight on issues with online data protection for consumers in Australia. Photo: TND

Nicholas Holland, HubSpot vice-president of product and general manager of marketing portfolio, said many people already choose to forgo some privacy by agreeing to have online ads personalised to them and their browsing habits, accepting cookies automatically when visiting websites, and failing to read terms of services agreements.

He said this comes from a general expectation that if a company is doing something “nefarious” with the data consumers are providing, they’ll be punished.

However, if you’re living with that mindset in Australia, you might want to have a rethink.

Australians currently have no right to take legal action if they have been harmed by a serious invasion of their privacy – although in September, the government committed to introducing legislation in 2024 to protect Australians’ personal information in response to a review of the Privacy Act.

The New Daily attended Inbound courtesy of HubSpot.

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