Human Behavior Is the New Global Currency, Says Thomas Koulopolous

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What is the most valuable commodity in today's world? If you think it's oil, gold, or even water, think again. FS Insider recently spoke with Thomas Koulopolous to discuss his fascinating and must-read book, Revealing the Invisible: How Our Hidden Behaviors Are Becoming the Most Valuable Commodity of the 21st Century.

Mapping the Unconscious Mind

It isn’t just overt facts about us that are being collected Thomas said, but unconscious behaviors we might perform 20 or 30 times a day. Through our use of social media, the web searches we perform, sites we visit, to cameras that watch our every move in public, all kinds of metrics are available now to quantify individual and collective human behavior.

We don’t keep track of most of our habits, Koulopolous noted, and many of these behaviors are carried out in the background in a way that we either don't choose to remember them or are completely unconscious of.

If we were to track these behaviors empirically, things about ourselves emerge that are often surprising, yet nonetheless provide enormous insight. Companies and governments now spend vast sums of money for the insights gleaned from this data to understand and predict the decisions that people will make and why they make them.

What most people have failed to grasp, however, is the increasing role AI plays in the gathering, analysis, and pricing of human data, which will only continue to grow.

Personal Relationships With AI

As our devices get to know us, Koulopolous noted, we’ll effectively be forming relationships with them. These AI systems will get to know us, begin to conform to our behaviors and idiosyncrasies and be able to accommodate us.

While it might sound a bit creepy now, that dynamic will likely change as the technology emerges and is more widely adopted. Amazon, for example, is starting to really get to know its customers, and the way we interact with not just the devices, but retailers through artificial intelligence, is set to change.

This will lead to hyper-personalization, Koulopolous stated, where brands will exhibit loyalty to customers at a micro-level since they'll know almost everything about the way you think, including your interests and psychological make-up.

“Once we get beyond the creep factor of that, it actually creates enormous value … That’s the role of AI now. It's getting to know you in such a way that it can be very accommodating to your needs ... I don't think once we’ve had that, any of us will want to go back to not having that.”

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