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Your Data Is a Weapon That Can Help Change Corporate Behavior

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The power of the consumer.

A study by Northwestern University researchers considered ways the public can take action against companies they believe misuse their data or act unethically.

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A study by Northwestern University researchers highlighted how the public can influence companies they think are misusing their data or engaging in unethical behavior.

The study concerns data leverage, the power consumers have over firms that rely on machine learning (ML) software; people can impact businesses by changing their online behavior, like discontinuing use of such software.

Northwestern's Nicholas Vincent said if people stop using a certain artificial intelligence-powered application, the app will lose the data needed for it to learn properly.

Consumers also can collaboratively infect an ML system through atypical behavior, a practice known as data poisoning, and undermine the software's performance.

Vincent said the research aims to show the public how their online behavior influences the AI systems of powerful technology companies.

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