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Cell Phones Predict the Future

timothy posted about 9 years ago | from the yes-they-do-no-they-don't dept.

Privacy 240

An anonymous reader writes "Wired News reports that cell phones were used in a recent project at MIT to both document and predict the lives of 100 MIT faculty and staff members. During the Reality Mining Project at MIT, Researcher Nathan Eagle logged 350,000 hours of data over nine months about the location, proximity, activity and communication of volunteers through cell phones carried by the participants. From the article, "Given enough data, Eagle's algorithms were able to predict what people -- especially professors and Media Lab employees -- would do next and be right up to 85 percent of the time."

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I predict that data thieves will love this! (5, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#13158409)

"We want to have our life choreographed, cataloged, witnessed and archived," Stakutis said. "Now we are heading to a world where this is possible without effort."

Do we? It's one thing to have a personal diary or blog that you opt-in to submit information to daily. Hell, I have even expanded on my mobile pics [lazylightning.org] to include a "blog" of what I did during any particular day... That's my *choice* to put that information out there for people to see. It's not mandated by my cell phone to take pictures of what I'm doing and throw them into a database that I have no control over.

While Eagle "acknowledges that the project raises some important questions about privacy and about the ownership of data, and says people should feel empowered, not scared, by his cell-phone applications," I just can't get passed his statement earlier in the article:

The Media Lab behavior is beautifully regular, but the lab lives and dies by sponsors' meetings," Eagle said. "So the weeks leading up to sponsors' meetings, people are pulling all-nighters and people are going crazy trying to get their demo working.

Is this another demo for one of your sponsors that might end up buying the rights of this technology from you and then creating their own spyware network of their mobile users' daily habits? Tracking when, where, and how they communicate to "better" serve them with advertisements and the selling/stealing of their data to other institutions and data thieves?

He has already founded a company called MetroSpark that in September will launch a Bluetooth-powered social-introduction service.
After filling out a personal profile, MetroSpark will attempt to be a gracious, ubiquitous host that connects people with common interests, whether they are technology conference goers who share an interest in motorcycles or barhopping singles who love long walks on the beach at sunset.


Oh, so you started this company -- got it advertised on Wired and now Slashdot -- and it's never going to get bought out by someone else (i.e. Dodgeball) and they aren't going to use this huge database of customer data that was originally meant to be benign?

I predict that even more corporations are going to have a field day with this data than what they originally intended (i.e. when/where you have your cell phone on and how many days a week you are sitting at home letting the CATV wash over you). If the corporations (and then obviously the government) can track social networks and trends via software on the phones you can bet your ass they are going to include it "free of charge" while still restricting your "free" access to any other programs you might want to run.

I predict that people will fall for this invasion just like any other. We're seriously one step closer to the "Big Brother" that everyone used to fear... Now we are welcoming him with open arms!

It's not that deep (2, Interesting)

TommyBlack (899306) | about 9 years ago | (#13158527)

I think it's great that someone's working on this technology, and there's no reason to assume that it's going to be used for some nefarious purpose. The horrible thing about "Big Brother" wasn't that he knows what you're doing, it's that he stops you from doing what you want to do. All this privacy nonsense really has to stop. It really doesn't matter who knows what you're doing, and chances are a lot of people know a lot about you just by looking. I don't think it has any negative impact on my life if people know what I'm doing as long as I can still do whatever I want. Of course, dishonest people might think otherwise. Of course a criminal would want some privacy, or someone who is lying to his wife. But otherwise I can't think of a good reason for it.

Re:It's not that deep (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#13158575)

there's no reason to assume that it's going to be used for some nefarious purpose.

he openly admits that there are privacy implications and that he's starting up a company (TBF it is benign right now) that's going to track social networks via mobile phones. As I stated above, that technology will likely be bought out by some corporation and used for their own records. It's not even so much the corporations or the government that worries me. It's intrusions via inappropriate third parties (ala T-mobile) that might get access to this data that worry me.

The horrible thing about "Big Brother" wasn't that he knows what you're doing, it's that he stops you from doing what you want to do.

What do you mean it's not stopping you. You wouldn't even give it a second's thought if you knew someone might be watching what you are doing? It certainly makes me think twice before I leave my mobile phone on while I make my daily rounds.

All this privacy nonsense really has to stop. It really doesn't matter who knows what you're doing, and chances are a lot of people know a lot about you just by looking. I don't think it has any negative impact on my life if people know what I'm doing as long as I can still do whatever I want. Of course, dishonest people might think otherwise.

You are a direct product of this time period. "I have nothing to hide. I don't care." That's what's wrong. People *should* care and *should* be questioning that idea.

It's so scary that people don't. I just hope you are trolling.

Re:It's not that deep (4, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 9 years ago | (#13158809)

You are a direct product of this time period. "I have nothing to hide. I don't care." That's what's wrong. People *should* care and *should* be questioning that idea.

How about preventing the social constructs that encourage such abuse instead of trying to prevent technology from advancing? The danger I see in this thread isn't from the technology- the danger comes from the fact that we've already let corporations become first class citizens- making real human beings mere second-class has beens at best. Worrying about privacy is just a symptom- the real problem is an overly invasive, super-powerfull business world that places profit above all other considerations.

Big Sister (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158543)

"I predict that people will fall for this invasion just like any other. We're seriously one step closer to the "Big Brother" that everyone used to fear... Now we are welcoming him with open arms!"

Not quite. 1984's "Big Brother" was the government. This is more like "Big nosy neighbour".

Re:I predict that data thieves will love this! (5, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 9 years ago | (#13158574)

"We want to have our life choreographed, cataloged, witnessed and archived," Stakutis said. "Now we are heading to a world where this is possible without effort."

Indeed, next comes the government contract to expand and fully exploit this information. Soon, local law enforcement will be using this data to do their jobs more efficiently and stopping people for questioning just because they've "strayed from the herd".

And they'll do it without directly violating your privacy because they won't see the data that was the basis of the alert. As long as no one but the black box doing the mining sees your private information and doesn't disclose any of it with its findings, it's not going to be seen as a violation of your privacy. Privacy violations will become defined as disclosure of one person's information to another person, and machines running automated processes will be exempt by definition.

Re:I predict that data thieves will love this! (2, Interesting)

CFTM (513264) | about 9 years ago | (#13158744)

Are you sure your name isn't chicken little, because it sounds like you think the sky is falling.

Ok, so that joke isn't funny, it's a stupid troll but I think you're taking things a little too far. Could the scenerio you've depicted occur? Sure could, will it occur? In my mind, it is highly unlikely. Things are never as bad as the cynics say and never as good as the optimists believe; besides governments are becoming less and less important in the world. If anything, I see this technology being used to improve targetted advertising; afterall everything in American society goes back to making dollars. Having a police force keeping people "in line" would be a waste of money.

Re:I predict that data thieves will love this! (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#13158854)

In my mind, it is highly unlikely. Things are never as bad as the cynics say and never as good as the optimists believe; besides governments are becoming less and less important in the world.

You're 100% right, they won't enter into a contract for the data as they would have to pay for that. They will just claim it's to track a terrorist cell and take the information under the guise of National Security.

It's far more devious this way as the American Public might never hear about it as it's illegal to announce that an investigation is happening.

We have no longer have protections of anonymoys sources to the press, we no longer have protections of our privacy from repressive regimes, and we have people that continue to go around thinking that it is all right because "they have nothing to hide".

Stop creating the means to make it easier for the corporations and the government to do what they have been trying to do for decades.

Re:I predict that data thieves will love this! (2, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | about 9 years ago | (#13158681)

What's this? Decrying a new technology based on its potential applications? Am I reading the same Slashdot that I used to? Everything has the potential for abuse. Does this mean we should stop developing new uses for networks?

This service appears to be 100% opt-in. Therefore, those who choose not to use it (like me and, I assume, you) will never be affected by it.

Re:I predict that data thieves will love this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158737)

Until it gets bought by all the cell phone companies and your 'opt-in' is a 'automatic unless you object in writing notice' in extremely fine print at the bottom of the standard service contract that only one-in-a-million people actually read fully before signing...

Alternative uses (3, Funny)

toucci (834101) | about 9 years ago | (#13158410)

Now, let's use this technology for cell phone highway safety:
85% chance of obstructing traffic
40% chance of unwittingly drifting into your lane
0.2% chance of hitting the center divide.

I'd wager those numbers are spot-on.

Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158411)

Analyzing one's routine allows you to somewhat accurately predict what they will do during that routine the following day? WOW.

Re:Amazing (1)

Golias (176380) | about 9 years ago | (#13158736)

Analyzing one's routine allows you to somewhat accurately predict what they will do during that routine the following day? WOW.

No kidding. Talk about a non-story.

Just by talking to somebody for five minutes, you can accurately predict how much time they will spend eating and sleeping the next day, and that's over a third of their day right there.

Are they employed full-time? Ah, then the mighty Carnac knows how they will spend another 8 hours each weekday with a high degree of accuracy!

Honestly, considering how much data they collected, 85% is kinda shitty.

Re:Amazing (1)

Lispy (136512) | about 9 years ago | (#13158783)

Exactly. That's why it's useless. Hey, this guy will go to work tomorrow. and the day after tomorrow. and then on weekends he will go to the pub. And then one day he snapped and shot his wife, his kids and himself with a 9mm. Who saw that coming? Won't ever work with this kind of prediction.

Like sleepers that lead a normal life and one day they blow themselves up in a the back of a bus. If monitoring like this would be used by the police then we wouldn't be allowed to step out of our routine ever. Or we would be shot like that brasilian guy in london who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Life is unpredictable. Get over it and stop stealing personal rights just because you think you could get a little more control....

Shameless Plug - Schedule Nanny (5, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | about 9 years ago | (#13158412)

Hmm, not entirely the same thing, but I'd worked on a project called ScheduleNanny, where we used people's PDAs coupled with GPSes to predict where they will be.

There were some interesting emergent behaviors - for instance, the system would know that I have to go to the bank later in the day and I would drive by the bank in the morning, so it would indicate that I could save time by going to the bank then. Or for instance, it would beep in the morning that it was time for me to go shower or go to the train station.

Details can be found here [metlin.org] .

All in all, it was pretty good - after some amount of initial bootload information, you can take away the GPS and quite accurately predict where people are likely to be. This looks fairly similar, in some ways.

Re:Shameless Plug - Schedule Nanny (4, Funny)

op12 (830015) | about 9 years ago | (#13158620)

*Beep* It's been a month since you showered and stepped out of the house! *Beep*

Re:Shameless Plug - Schedule Nanny (1)

Lispy (136512) | about 9 years ago | (#13158825)

Thanks for the laugh! Where are those modpoints when I need em.

Changes in Technology? (4, Funny)

mrRay720 (874710) | about 9 years ago | (#13158413)

I guess they've stopped being smartphones, and started being smartass phones.

Real-world example (0, Offtopic)

goldspider (445116) | about 9 years ago | (#13158417)

I have cable. My friend has satellite.

We'll be on the phone, both watching the same football game, and from his point of view, I can predict every play call and every score. It's incredible! I exclaim "TOUCHDOWN EAGLES!" a full seven seconds before it even happens!

I think I'm going to start charging money for these predictions. All thanks to my cell phone!

There is but one solution... (4, Funny)

ballstothat (893605) | about 9 years ago | (#13158419)

Wrap your cellphone in tinfoil. That'll keep those MIT spies out!

Which means no predection at all (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158425)

In metheorology it is a fact, that if you predict the next day weather to be excactly the same that it is today, you end up with 85% average.

Re:Which means no predection at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158876)

They must not have had North Dakota in their model. Every day is different here it seems. :)

Wow... (1)

DanielNS84 (847393) | about 9 years ago | (#13158427)

I can't help but wonder how he got approval for a project like this...I mean on paper it sounds kind of silly. "Project Goal: To gather cell phone usage data over a 9 month period in order to accurately predict the future actions of the projects participants" I mean, as neat as these results may be, it must have been a hard sell at first.

Re:Wow... (4, Funny)

abb3w (696381) | about 9 years ago | (#13158484)

I can't help but wonder how he got approval for a project like this...I mean on paper it sounds kind of silly.

Perhaps you haven't been following the news for the last several years. Sounds perfectly fundable under the present US administration.

Re:Wow... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 9 years ago | (#13158873)

You think that's bad you should see some of the things money was invested in during the last administration.

1) collect underpants
3) profit!!

Re:Wow... (1)

mrRay720 (874710) | about 9 years ago | (#13158508)

Depends on who you ask for money. I'm sure many governments would throw more money at you than you could carry if you gave them a proposal like that.

Hell, I'm sure several ad companies would love that kind of information, too.

Surveilance, tracking people, and outright spying are always going to have rich interested parties...

Re:Wow... (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | about 9 years ago | (#13158533)

Well, it seems like every other grad student wants to design the next 1eeT p2p protocol (as if it's the only pressing CS issue these days), so apparently it's not too hard to get candy funding these days.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158671)

Silly is what the Media Lab does best.

Re:Wow... (1)

shotfeel (235240) | about 9 years ago | (#13158729)

I can just as accurately predict the future with even less data.

Tell me appoximately what time you leave for work every day, and I'll predict approximately what time of day you'll leave for work every day next week.

We're mostly creatures of habit, so yes, 85% of the time we're doing just what we did the last time.

Quick, somebody toss me some grant money!

Headlines, headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158431)

Then let our cell phones continue to predict that spammers will be brutally murdered.

Oooooh (-1, Offtopic)

robstamack (786429) | about 9 years ago | (#13158433)

Peter: "Brian, look, there's a message in my Alphabets. It says 'Ooooooooooooooh'"
Brian: "Peter, those are Cheerios"

Re:Oooooh (2, Insightful)

teshuvah (831969) | about 9 years ago | (#13158614)

The jokes fails when you add an "h" to it. The Cheerios I eat don't contain any "h" shaped letters.

Elevators ! (4, Funny)

bushboy (112290) | about 9 years ago | (#13158437)

Great stuff, now lets use that technology to create elevators that can predict the future !

Hmmm, wait a minute ...

Re:Elevators ! (1)

The-Bus (138060) | about 9 years ago | (#13158523)

Logically, that idea seems a bit fuzzy to me.

Re:Elevators ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158589)

OK with me, so long as they're not afriad of hights!

I've gotta ask.... (4, Insightful)

LordPhantom (763327) | about 9 years ago | (#13158441)

.... how is this very much different than human observation and analysis to figure out what someone's patterns are? If you watch anyone long enough you can get a good "feel" for where they will be, when they take lunch, who they hang out with, etc.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding but it looks as if this is just location-level tracking with GPS thrown in....hardly predicting the future, much more likely analyzing the past.

Re:I've gotta ask.... (2, Insightful)

w98 (831730) | about 9 years ago | (#13158610)

Exactly ... title should have read "cell phones research data help computers analyze pattern recognition" in other words: no big deal.

Re:I've gotta ask.... (1)

temojen (678985) | about 9 years ago | (#13158881)

This is automatic, tracks lots of people, and requires less observers. I'd imaging the old way would require 4 observers per subject (3shifts daily plus fill-ins/management/analysis), whereas this way one observer could watch tens or hundreds of people.

Can they find my phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158444)

Ah, but can they predict where/when I will lose my cell phone next?

RE: and you wonder why.... (1)

fshalor (133678) | about 9 years ago | (#13158448)

the gvmt has invested millions in cell phone monitoring kit?

they not only know where we are and where we were, they have a good idea where we will be...

ah...scarrrrrry...;)

Re: and you wonder why.... (4, Insightful)

pilgrim23 (716938) | about 9 years ago | (#13158506)

no, YOU invested in it!! You pay an average of 40 bucks a month to carry around a device which can be tracked, attached to, bugged, listened to, databased and demographied. There is a really simple solution: DON'T CARRY A CELL PHONE! now take your $480/year savings and buy something nice for the wife.

Re: and you wonder why.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158685)

Honey? Is that you?

Re: and you wonder why.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158768)

DON'T CARRY A CELL PHONE! now take your $480/year savings and buy something nice for the wife.

DON'T GET MARRIED!!! take your $48,000/yr savings and buy something nice for yourself!!

Re: and you wonder why.... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 9 years ago | (#13158848)

you pay 480? Damn! I pay between 160-180 per MONTH. But then again, this is the only phone I have, no land line and I use it all the time.

Re: and you wonder why.... (1)

Quasar1999 (520073) | about 9 years ago | (#13158892)

...now take your $480/year savings and buy something nice for the wife

Umm... terribly sorry, but I don't have a wife... would $480 buy me one? I'm very lonely...

Well in college I'm usual in one place. (5, Funny)

teiresias (101481) | about 9 years ago | (#13158452)

Given enough data, Eagle's algorithms were able to predict what people -- especially professors and Media Lab employees -- would do next and be right up to 85 percent of the time."

Course, in my college days, if my cell phone predicted I'd be in the computer lab, 99% of the time it'd be right.

Re:Well in college I'm usual in one place. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158786)

NERD!

me too :(

Re:Well in college I'm usual in one place. (1)

Trillan (597339) | about 9 years ago | (#13158802)

I dunno. Apparently they're predicting the locations of professors. That's a lot harder. (I'm assuming the predictions are more specific than "Not in class.")

Forget predictions (1)

suitepotato (863945) | about 9 years ago | (#13158456)

Let me save you the time. I'll just take my camera phone and...

(Ziiiip)

There ya go.

Or could you see it coming, my response to this nonsense?

Study is usless (1)

romka1 (891990) | about 9 years ago | (#13158457)

Didn't we have already an article that most of the studies carried out are useless ?

Re:Study is usless (1)

suitepotato (863945) | about 9 years ago | (#13158531)

Didn't we have already an article that most of the studies carried out are useless ?

Yes, and I predicted that no one would care.

I was right!

Seems like alot of work to go through... (2, Funny)

dfn5 (524972) | about 9 years ago | (#13158461)

... just to find out when and where the next kegger is.

Let's see those schedules... (1)

rk_cr (901227) | about 9 years ago | (#13158462)

10% - Teaching class
10% - Driving to teach class
5% - Preparing notes for next class
30% - Doing personal research in the labs
30% - Sleeping

Surprisingly, the 15% of their time unnaccounted for was only on the weekends when they did things unrelated to their profession.

Re:Let's see those schedules... (1)

Andy Gardner (850877) | about 9 years ago | (#13158569)

Given enough data, Eagle's algorithms were able to predict what people -- especially professors and Media Lab employees -- would do next and be right up to 85 percent of the time.

So this system can predict where someone -- who regualary follows a timetable day in day out -- will be. Wow.

You could do the same thing for me, just look at my lecture timetable.
...Oh wait

Predictions (-1, Troll)

Atlantic Wall (847508) | about 9 years ago | (#13158474)

Here is a prediction for you.
You will get cancer from me! and will lose the ability to recall phone numbers of any one including yourself, and you will no longer be able to add numbers greater then 3.

ahahahahaha
i am your cell phone cower before me!

Mexican Hat Dance. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158485)

I predict I will ***KILL*** the next person holding a cell phone that plays the Mexican Hat Dance.

Creatures of habit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158492)

Because we are creatures of habit you retards!

Revealing quote in the study (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 9 years ago | (#13158505)

"We want to have our life choreographed, cataloged, witnessed and archived," Stakutis said. "Now we are heading to a world where this is possible without effort."

Maybe you do, but I've already done that, and it's way overrated.

Where's the opt-out box on this form called Life Under Big Brother?

Re:Revealing quote in the study (1)

NineNine (235196) | about 9 years ago | (#13158714)

Where's the opt-out box on this form called Life Under Big Brother?

No such thing. Just don't use a cell phone if you don't like being tracked. Nobody forced you to buy a cell phone (or any of the stupid techno-gadgets that allow this).

not all that useful (1)

mike77 (519751) | about 9 years ago | (#13158514)

It would seem that predicting where someone will be when they're following their normal routine or schedule is nice and all, but who can't figure that out now? When you can predict where people will be when they're NOT following their routine or schedule, then you have something.

OK, now here's something to think about. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158519)

  1. If MIT statisticians can do this, the government can absolutely do this. They just have to get under your phone records.
  2. Under the patriot act rules the House is currently renewing, if the government wants to put a tap on your phone records, they don't have to explain to a judge what they're doing. They just have to say "we are going to seize some records, but we aren't going to tell you which ones".
But, of course, I guess you don't have anything to worry about from an entity with absolute power and no accountability or oversight, unless you have something to hide.

waaa? (3, Insightful)

hobotron (891379) | about 9 years ago | (#13158528)



"Given enough data, Eagle's algorithms were able to predict what people -- especially professors and Media Lab employees -- would do next and be right up to 85 percent of the time."

You mean if I give you a constant stream of my position data for months you can predict a future point where I will be with up to 85% accuracy?

Massive privacy concerns aside, this is a pretty shitty algorithim if thats as good as a prediction as it can make. Humans are creatures of habit, in 9 months just about every geographical habit you have would make itself known, we even do random things in a periodic manner.

Still got a long way before this is ready to be sold into the hands of advertisers and cell phone makers. So I suppose I could be glad about that.

its interesting but... (1)

tont0r (868535) | about 9 years ago | (#13158536)

its almost obvious. the only thing they changed was how they collected the data. i mean, of course people will follow a pattern. i bet 99% of you(the other 1% are gross) brush your teeth within 10 minutes of getting out of bed. YAY! I PREDICTED THE FUTURE! WOO!!!!.

100% of all my friends will tell you that i wake up at 8am for class monday- friday. they could also tell you that 11:00am, monday-thursday, im on my way to work, with some really clean teeth.

if (time() == 8am && normal_location(time()) == "bedroom"){
next_task("brush teeth");
}

My cell phone is telling me... (5, Funny)

ucahg (898110) | about 9 years ago | (#13158542)

My cell phone is telling me that on thursday I will read this story again.

Re:My cell phone is telling me... (1)

op12 (830015) | about 9 years ago | (#13158651)

My cell phone is telling me that on thursday I will read this story again.

It must be buggy, because it's more like Tuesday at the latest.

Its psychohistory (1)

wcb4 (75520) | about 9 years ago | (#13158562)

or its precursor, only in reality......

I wonder if some model predicted that Asimov would write about the concept....

makes the mind reel

After all the time and effort... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158568)

... you discover your girlfriend will dump you.

In Soviet Amerika (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 9 years ago | (#13158571)

you don't watch videos on your phone - your phone watches you.

And so Psychohistory was born (2, Funny)

Snaller (147050) | about 9 years ago | (#13158577)

Hari Seldon would be proud :)

Re:And so Psychohistory was born (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 9 years ago | (#13158682)

Actually he is preparing for the fall of the empire, looking at how the world looks like at the moment.

Re:And so Psychohistory was born (1)

anaesthetica (596507) | about 9 years ago | (#13158816)

That's exactly what I was thinking! The use of data mining and aggregate statistics to draw inferences about mass psychology is basically what Psychohistory was supposed to be. Wikilink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictio nal) [wikipedia.org]
Psychohistory is the name of a fictional science... which combined history, psychology and mathematical statistics to create a (nearly) exact science of the behavior of very large populations of people...

How neat is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158584)

I can predict where a teenager with a new game console is going to be 80% of time.

Is this a study that says, "Humans are creatures of habit, and because of that we can predict where they'll be at lunchtime."

Okay, I'll RTFA now...

Slow down Cowboy! (17 minutes!?!) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158591)

Totally OT - but this is quite funny:

"Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

It's been 17 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment"

Big deal (0, Troll)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 9 years ago | (#13158595)

Eat Bagle Bites.
Play World of Warcraft.
Jerk off to Slutomax After Dark.

There, I just predicted the Friday and Saturday nights of 75% of Slashdot.

Re:Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158826)

Please, I'm WAY too tired after an exciting night of WoW to force my wrist to do even the needed 15 seconds of heavy labor you predict.

(Thank God I'm an AC)

This data is gold for marketing companies... (4, Insightful)

twifosp (532320) | about 9 years ago | (#13158609)

... and there are three words you should be afraid of:

Google Dot Com

I'm not exactly paranoid. But if you look at googles recent developments and purchasing of services [slashdot.org] ; you can see how data such as this could be used in the future.

Couple that with archived search engine results, google maps, google wallet, google froogle, ect and you know a lot about a person does. If you were to then apply these predictive models, you know a lot about what a person will do in the market place. Food for thought.

Marketing marketing marketing.

Umm... Yeah? (2, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | about 9 years ago | (#13158611)

You could predict that for 10 hours a day, i'm sitting right here in this chair.

And that from 6 PM until about 6:30 PM, I'm driving home, and that from then on I'd be at my home, watching TV or fucking around on the intertron.

You'd be right about 85% of the time. No wonder this works better for grad students and professors, adults with responsibilities typically have schedules.

All they do is piss away money there, dont they? Well piss a little my way, will ya?

That'll really be worth something when . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | about 9 years ago | (#13158613)

My cell phone can correctly predict the lottery for me.

timetableizer (4, Insightful)

Andy Gardner (850877) | about 9 years ago | (#13158617)

Given enough data, Eagle's algorithms were able to predict what people -- especially professors and Media Lab employees -- would do next and be right up to 85 percent of the time.

So this system can predict where someone -- who regualary follows a timetable -- day in day out -- will be. Wow.

You could do the same thing for me, just look at my lecture timetable.
...Oh wait

consider the subject (1, Troll)

bongoras (632709) | about 9 years ago | (#13158619)

Remember, the subjects were all MIT people. Here's my prediction:

for (subject):
25% chance: talking about how much linux is better than windows
25% chance: reading slashdot and wondering why that hot chick he met last night wasn't impressed that he's a post-graduate student
25% chance: writing in their blogs about how superior their intellects are
25% chance: modding this comment as -1 troll

Re:consider the subject (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158705)

You seem bitter. What, did you only get into CalTech?

Sounds UNimpressive to me... (5, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 9 years ago | (#13158636)

I can predict that the next time I weigh myself the scale will read between 160 and 170. This prediction would have been true far more than 85% of the time over the last five years and I will be very surprised if it is not true the next time I weigh myself.

Once I learn that someone works a full-time job and where they work, I can predict with greater than 85% accuracy where they will be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

I've heard it said, whether or not correctly I do not know, that if you simply predict that tomorrow's weather will be the same as today's, you will be accurate more often than the weather service.

Predictions are only valuable when they are unlikely or surprising. Tabulating obvious patterns and predicting their continuation may be highly accurate yet low in value.

Re:Sounds UNimpressive to me... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 9 years ago | (#13158806)

...where they will be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

Man, I wish I had that full time job.

Quicker Program (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158637)

1a) Participant on phone: 'Honey, I'll be home shortly.'

1b) Participant on phone: 'Meet ya at the bar in 10 minutes'

1c) Participant on phone: 'I'm heading off to work out, talk to you after i get done.

2a) Program: Particpant may soon be going home

2b) Program: Participant may soon be going to the bar

2c) Program: Participant may soon be going to work out

3) ???

4) Profit!

Phones schmones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158640)

I have been scratching those Vonage ads for days. Winning many times, filling out many forms.
The only problem is, I can't select my Country, I have to select "state", we do not have states.
Ah, I will fill out a few more I guess. Maybe I will get lucky sometime.

How is this news? (2, Interesting)

ICLKennyG (899257) | about 9 years ago | (#13158646)

Given 10,000 hours of data on where I am, of course you can spot a pattern...... Let's see, it's monday, I bet he's in class. It's friday, and he was out till 4:00am at an establishment that serves alchol - I bet he is over sleeping his 7:30am lecture on Chemistry. The interesting findings would have been the lack of ability to predict acurately what people were doing. It's especially easy to do this on a college campus where there aren't a lot of dual uses for things (there aren't a lot of reasons to go into the hall of chemistry vs say going into 101 America Tower in Downtown America's Ville).

Old News (5, Funny)

asscroft (610290) | about 9 years ago | (#13158655)

My cell phone told me this yesterday!

I hear COWBOYNEAL can predict teh future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158660)

By looking into his silicone balls(eureka! [onzin.nl] ), he can see if you will be readable, writable, executable, and whichever group will gain access. I'm hoping cowboyneal sets me up to chgrp femeninelesbiandykes and broadcast that I am available to chmod 0690 w00t!

To confirm you're not a script,
please type the word in this image: MURDERS

Employer's Use (1)

joncue (541265) | about 9 years ago | (#13158675)

Beyond the government being able to track where I have been and (85% of the time anyway) predict where I am going, what about employers potentially requiring this type of information for an interview. Would they be able to see how much you are off work, taking long lunches, how often you shut it off because you already answered enough stupid questions for the day, etc.

Overall, it sounds to me like technology waiting to be abused.

Interesting for Intelligence Collection... (1)

TedTschopp (244839) | about 9 years ago | (#13158683)

I wonder if the United States government is using this over seas to track people we are 'interested' in, and perdict their future movement. What would also be of interest would be a diviation from that expected behaviour.

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158713)

You mean if someone called 911, they may be in trouble?

Santa Claus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158732)

""Wired News reports that cell phones were used in a recent project at MIT to both document and predict the lives of 100 MIT faculty and staff members."

1984 this, and 1984 that. But the person you should be worried about is Santa Claus with that whole "he knows when your naughty, he knows when you've been nice" thing. What's up with that? Were's the outrage? He might get bought up by a toy conglomerate, and just look at what will happen with all that personal information. Plus he's got that whole "breaking and entering" thing down pat. You all instead are worried more about Big Brother, instead of Fat Santa.

Nothing new, already been done. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 9 years ago | (#13158772)

Trained Neural networks have been used to predict stock changes in wall street for years. When I studied about, it was '95.

So, what's the news that some algorithm can be trained with some data and predict possible inputs after a given time?

Letter to Isaac Asimov (4, Insightful)

jurt1235 (834677) | about 9 years ago | (#13158794)

Dear Mr Asimov,

Only after the dead of a giant, it becomes clear of how big a giant he was. You yourself most likely admired Jules Verne, who was so accurate in predicting the technical marvels of the first 70 years of the 20th century. Sometimes a bit poetic. He himself probably admired Leonardo da Vinci, however his predictions took a lot longer to come through.

Anyway to cut to the chase, another of your stories is turning into a prediction which seems to be slowly coming true. The bases for the science of the 2nd foundation has been laid. It is still a crude version, but it is working for 85% accurate on a group of odd people (scientist & professors).

Anyway, your list sofar:
1. Scientists accepted the 3 laws of robotics as a good bases for robot behaviour, and are working hard on the first autonomous robots (somewhere this christmas we can expect the first few).
2. Computers which are shaping the world.
3. Longer lives through science (genetic research, nanotechnology, expected around 2030).
4. And your last feat: Working social behaviour prediction algoritms.

Knowing you were a great writer, and I only read a part of your books, I am probably missing a few more predictions coming through. I hope others will come through too, it will turn out to be a great future.

High regards,

Jurt1235

Being Formless (2, Interesting)

lunar_legacy (715938) | about 9 years ago | (#13158832)

The ultimate skill is to take up a position where you are formless.

If you are formless, the most penetrating spies will not be able to discern you, or the wisest counsels will not be able to do calculations against you.
THE ART OF WAR, Sun Tzu

Where is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158834)

my tin foil hat???

Daily routines? (1)

James_Aguilar (890772) | about 9 years ago | (#13158862)

So the algorithms logged daily routines of cell phone users . . . then predicted that they would follow their daily routines? How is this impressive?

Work & Home (1)

blatantdog (829922) | about 9 years ago | (#13158867)

You can predict with near 100% accuracy that where most people will be all day. Work or home.

My dog figured out my schedule too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13158878)

Most of us are creatures of habit, DUH!
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