This Year at the World Economic Forum: Hyperconnectivity and Personal Data

At a time when the news is saturated by coverage of the challenges related to data privacy and security, world leaders will be exploring the topic of hyperconnectivity during the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 22 – 25.

In the following video promoting the WEF, Raymond J. Baxter, senior vice president for Kaiser Permanente, joins other business leaders to talk about worldwide hyperconnectivity of information and personal data.

While there is a heightened debate around privacy and the use of personal data, Baxter points out the reality of our current situation.

“We can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” says Baxter in the video. “Our information is out there. What we’ve got to learn are what are the social conventions and legal conventions that we are all going to have to adopt in order to retain our dignity and our privacy and our autonomy. And that’s what the World Economic Forum is good at is providing a platform to bring all of those different actors together to try to reach some solutions to some very important problems.”

In a WEF blog post he authored in January 2013, Baxter discussed the benefits that can result when personal data goes beyond what it was originally intended for and is used for broad social purposes.

“For example, medical researchers at Kaiser Permanente using a robust database taken from the personal medical records of related family members, from 1995 through 2002, demonstrated that children who were prenatally exposed to mothers who used antidepressants had more than twice the risk of developing autism spectrum disorders. By discovering this correlation and leveraging data in new ways, lives are improved.”

In the same blog post, Baxter makes the point that it is how the personal data is used, and how the individual is informed, that will make the critical difference moving forward.

“New approaches are needed that help individuals to understand how and when data is being collected, how the data is being used and the implications of those actions. Simplicity, efficacy and usability should lie at the heart of the relationship between individuals and the data generated by and about them. Organizations of all types need to engage and empower individuals more effectively so that better choice and control can be delivered. Trust needs to be earned.”

Baxter will once again be posting to the WEF blog this year. We will post and link to it when it is published. More coverage on Davos in the coming week. Stay tuned!

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