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  • Writer's pictureAmit Kukreja

Alex Karp Speaks on Data Privacy

What would you give up to ensure you and your loved ones are protected?

Would you allow governments to spy on everything you do on a day-to-day basis so they could prevent crime and terrorism?

At the Exchange of Ideas Summit hosted by Convoco in 2018, The topic of Data Privacy was brought up. This is what Alex Karp the co-founder of Palantir and Stephan Oshman the CEO of Merck (a biotech company) had to say to the interviewer.

“I think when I listen to both of you, I think we all should not be worried about data, because technology is already a step further. I think, I mean it's too important what we lose if we go for protection of data”

Alex Karp:

“I would worry if I were the average person about what's happening with my data. Under what conditions, who's seeing it, is it going to totally destroy my private life? We live in a world, especially if you're living in Europe, where you actually have a fair degree of privacy to control your life. What you decide to disclose, both to society to your employer and in your personal area, I think that a lot of these things come down to transparency and competence.

Do you disclose what the rules are?

Are the rules enforced?

And can you be sure without relying on a software engineer that the rules are enforceable?

If those conditions are met then you have a massive opportunity. If they're not met, the way in which most of us in this room want to live is going to deteriorate. I think there's a legitimate side of the debate, which is that you have to get these things to work. There's the Luddite side of the debate which is that we're going to throw out all technology that won't work anyway."

The Interviewer:

“Before you told me that you prefer working in countries where there's a lot more regulations for data protection right?”

Alex Karp:

“Our business is global and we for example have very an office in the UAE an office in Israel and offices in many places. As a purely business matter, it's massively advantageous for us the more strict the rules are because it's actually very hard to build these things. You can't build a data integration engine after you know the rules. You have to build one in anticipation of what the rules could be, It's like building a language. One of the caricatures of our business in Palo Alto is that we're both in bad and in good a little too German. We spent years figuring out how we would build this and then implementing. The marketing it sucks, but the product is phenomenal.”

“Denmark, its public knowledge, the whole country uses palantir”... “In a competition for the contract, the whole country, at the end of the competition we were the only company left! There was no other company.”

“The topic of; what does it mean to live in a capitalist society? Part of it has to mean that you have a right to have your own space, where you don't have to disclose, if you don't want, certain aspects of your life.”

What is your take here? Tweet at us, would you rather live as long a life as possible, but have to sacrifice some personal security/ privacy, or would you rather maybe not live as long of a life but have the safety of knowing you are free from surveillance.

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