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What the devil?! Bill Gates wants your college info so he can tell you what classes to take
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It might be easier to compose a short list of people and agencies that don't want to spy on you. Adding his name to the long list, Bill Gates has proposed tracking the lives and careers of college graduates as an ongoing means to assess college value. Of course, they'd need to see your pay stubs and such.
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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A Gates foundation study titled, "College Blackout" bemoans that "many students don't count" referring to the fact that college students aren't tracked after graduating and that college degrees are becoming worthless, or some of them at least.
The study proposes careful evaluation of graduates' lives after college to determine which degrees are worth the price, and which ones are not. The argument is that students could make better value-based decisions by knowing what the expected return on investment would be for their college tuition.
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This is an entirely logical position and one that's difficult to argue with. Such a study would answer the age-old college question, "what do you do with a B.A. in English?"
However, information also has a cost, and the price Bill Gates is asking us to pay is our privacy. In order to compile the data needed to complete such an assessment, graduates would have to share personal information about their lives, including their income and a host of other metrics, to end up with a result that is somehow quantified.
That result would then, ideally, inform future student choices as well as decision making by universities.
Presently, the only metrics students really have access to are top 100 lists published in U.S. News & World Report.
For better or for worse, Gates is stymied by a 2008 law that bans the aggregation of private student information. Included in that protective law is the right of the student, and none other, to control their academic records, such as their grades. Gates would aggregate student academic records, without their explicit permission. Such a database would possibly be accessible to private and government interests.
It would be little different if Gates sought access to your private medical records without your permission.
This issue distills down to a fundamental debate regarding the value of privacy as weighed against other forms of value.
To wit, government can collect all of your private information, with or without your permission, and by eliminating as much personal privacy as possible, they can conceivably develop a marginal increase in safety for you to enjoy.
Likewise, a private firm can do the same, and they can deliver tremendous value. Think about the ads you are served on social networks such as Facebook. Generally speaking, the ads you see are directly related to your interests and comments. It's a bit disconcerting at first, but you may appreciate seeing ads from, let's say auto dealers, when you're in the market for a new car.
Nonetheless, all of this "value" comes at the price of your privacy. Is your privacy worth it?
Privacy is essential. Privacy is what allows us to develop into who we choose to be as a person. Without privacy, we will be forced to be what society says we must be. This is why privacy is scant in places such as boot camp. The military needs you to be a soldier, a functioning cell in a larger corporation. There can be no unpredictability when it comes to your attitude or behavior.
However, outside of certain institutions, privacy allows us to experiment and flourish at the most fundamental level. It is in private that we think, dream, meditate and pray. We form special, loving bonds with chosen others in privacy. We raise our children in privacy, sharing with them the values of our forefathers which may run counter to the values of pop culture.
While it is true that some people do bad things with privacy and make poor decisions, such cases, no matter their sometimes terrible costs, are still outweighed by the benefit of privacy for the population at large.
Which brings us back to Gates and his ilk.
In an effort to dub certain college programs and degrees as having more or less value than others, Gates needs to look into your private life, without your permission. Your grades, perhaps your student health records, your future career choices and income are all potentially part of the metric. The entire study is predicated upon the false notion that privacy isn't worth as much as we think and that we can gain a lot of value by sacrificing it, even if unwillingly.
Yet, what we're really talking about here is profits. Personal information is worth money. It is imbued with power. Whoever controls the information controls the wealth and the power. This is the sickness of corruption and its attendant seductive lie. Give me your information and I will sell you access to a better metric for making college decisions. Give me your information and I will sell your eyes to an agency that you might like to do business with. Caveat emptor, it's a deal with the Devil.
It's all about more power, more money, and more control. Gates, like many others, is drunk on the stupefying liquor of power. All that matters is getting more, and the way to do that is to convince you that the seemingly marginal sacrifice of your privacy will yield great dividends to you in the form of information.
Gates and other "Davos men" out there have no loyalty to the United States. Their loyalty isn't to a country, it's to money, money which is made around the world. These people do not care if you have privacy, if you attend college, or about your personal level of self-actualization. Many are atheists and they do not care about the concept of salvation. Instead, they want to tell you, in exchange for your privacy, what college classes they think you should take, and you should thank them for their effort to do so.
Ultimately, it will be up to us to decide if we want to live in society that values privacy or prefers some marginal, almost intangible increase in what others think is valuable for us.
Let's hope we make the right decision, the Devil awaits your answer.
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