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Google to Acquire Fitbit

     
1:40 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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An announcement from Fitbit says it will be acquired by Google.

Fitbit, Inc. (NYSE: FIT) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Google LLC for $7.35 per share in cash, valuing the company at a fully diluted equity value of approximately $2.1 billion.


The transaction is expected to close in 2020, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Fitbit’s stockholders and regulatory approvals.

[investor.fitbit.com...]
5:17 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I absolutely wouldnt trust google to have access to my biometric data. If I was still a fitbit user I would jump ship (but I jumped ship years ago anyway). I have zero trust in google and facebook with my data so the last thing Id want is for them to also be able to track my moods and reactions which is where this is going.

I imagine the plan is to have fitbit wearers logged in via a google account and they will use AI to corrolate things like your heart rate when you look at certain pages, images, posts etc so they can work out the best way to trigger certain emotions in you, what things you dislike and prefer even more (even things you dont know you dislike or like yourself)
6:12 pm on Nov 1, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Milchan I agree in principal, mind you I think your exaggerating to some extent with:
they will use AI to correlate things like your heart rate when you look at certain pages, images, posts etc

The wearable trackers are good, but not that good. Your heart rate tends to be delayed by some margin from the actual event that triggers the rise and this delay varies from person to person depending on fitness level. I think such a thing would be difficult to track and correlate even in closed laboratory environment.

That said I agree I wouldn't want Google also having some of my intimate and personal data, regardless of what any privacy policy says. What good is the Fitbit privacy policy if Google buys the company.

I bought a wearable device a few month ago, I researched long and hard what to buy from a data safety perspective. I finally bought a device from a European company, because at a minimum it gives me the protection built in by GDPR. Despite this I still feel uneasy about uploading my data.
2:51 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Tracking. Location. Your bodily functions data. From inside your home to inside your body--Google lives.
10:32 pm on Nov 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I certainly would not trust Google or FB with my biometric data. Google is scary in a big brother way, and FB will sell your soul to the highest (foreign or domestic) bidder. Both are not worthy of trust. Then again the Chinese government and their WeChat/QQ/Weibo are even worse. This leaves me with some nausea.
1:52 pm on Nov 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The wearable trackers are good, but not that good. Your heart rate tends to be delayed by some margin from the actual event that triggers the rise and this delay varies from person to person depending on fitness level. I think such a thing would be difficult to track and correlate even in closed laboratory environment.


Right now yes, but the biotech area and such things as much more advanced wearable trackers, biodata collection systems are having billions invested in them and this area is going to advance very quickly in the next decade. Did anyone have much concern over liking pages on facebook and signing up for a unifying google account to bring together your chrome browser, android phone etc for better funcionality. Look how that has turned out - it has led to a massively changed political landscape and an era that has been called "post truth"!

Interesting books that comment on these things and give more concrete information are David Sinclairs "Lifespan" and "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" by Yuval Noah Harari , both of which im half way through (the latter Im reading text and the other is my current audio book). Lifespan is more focused on the current and being worked on actual science of longevity and increasingly overall lifespan and quality of health as we age (search for some of his talks on youtube for a taster is you have not heard of him, super interesting stuff) and 21 lessons is much more about taking a look at the possible future problems that all the fast moving technological advances are maybe going to bestow on us. Both these books talk about the collection of biodata, the huge benefits it could reap but also the potential dangers of this data being used in the wrong way, much like most of our current data is misused but with potentially far worse consequences in the wrong hands.
2:19 pm on Nov 4, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I certainly would not trust Google or FB with my biometric data. Google is scary in a big brother way, and FB will sell your soul to the highest (foreign or domestic) bidder. Both are not worthy of trust. Then again the Chinese government and their WeChat/QQ/Weibo are even worse. This leaves me with some nausea.


Yes China is a great example of the direction things might go. The internet based monitoring and control is bad enough (but that happens in other countries also just less visible) but things like the mass installation of facial recognition cameras across china that are being used in conjunction with a "citizen points scheme" are a good warning. Already people can lose points for buying too much alcohol, dropping litter, not giving up a seat for an old lady on the bus etc and if you go below a certain threshold you are unable to purchase flight, bus and train tickets to travel , get work , rent apartments. You also lose points for voicing opinions that are against the government so imagine what it would be like when there are wearable that can accurately track that you have negative feelings when you hear a government speech - there would be no disguising things.

The mandatory wearing of such devices would be easy enough to implement in a place like china but in somewhere like the US or Europe they could easily be assimilated into what we all think of as being normal. Would it be easy to make it mandatory to require every citizen to carry a device that can geo locate them within meters, record where they go, what they buy. No , people would rebel but that is exactly what everyone in developed nations (and pretty much in non developed nations now also) does already by carrying a smart phone which they freely do.
If wearable tech that records biometric information is incentivized enough people will follow the same path as smart phone usage. When hospitals and doctors can give much more accurate and faster diagnoses for people with such a tracker that has uploaded bio data, enabling them to catch serious diseases earlier, provide more personalized treatments that work better and actually save lives then people will volunteer to wear these things and provide their tracked data. Insurance companies might offer cheaper rates for people that do and eventually not offer cover for people that dont. It will become the norm, when you check into a hospital the first thing they will do would be access your bio data and AI will already have identified issues and treatments. In fact , you will probably only be going to the hospital in the first place because it had warned you of something wrong even though you felt fine.

But if a company like google or a government like China has access to all this bio data do we really think they will just use it for our benefit? That will be the carrot of course, the selling point that will draw everyone in but then google will be offering targeted advertising based on peoples health, mental state and also be able to identify what people like and dislike even more than they can. Governments like China would be able to identify anyone that doesnt truly believe in the party line and adjust citizen scores accordingly.

Biodata has the potential to bring incredible benefits but also user in a distopian nightmare.