90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Cell Phones Give Researchers ‘God’s-Eye View Of Human Behavior’

(JonJon2k8/Flickr)

(JonJon2k8/Flickr)

Apple created a stir last month after researchers discovered the iPhone was storing years of data tracking a user’s location.

Apple says its latest software update allows people to opt out, but the FCC is moving forward with a public forum on the issue next month. What else might they learn about what cell phones can tell us?

In Belgium, cell phone records explained the country’s political divide: Belgians hold the world record for not being able to agree on a government, and cell phone records show it could be because people in the two camps don’t talk to each other.

Other research in the U.S. tracked tweets, showing that they can predict changes in the Dow Jones average with almost 90% accuracy.

We speak about what information can be gleaned from cell phone records with professor Alex Pentland of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab, he says cell phones can give us a “God’s eye view of human behavior.”


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

October 23 Comment

New Documentary Profiles Human Rights Watch Team

An elite group known as the E-Team travels across the globe documenting human rights violations and war crimes.

October 23 Comment

Bottom Of The Sea Is ‘A World Of Surprises’

The world's oceans cover nearly two-thirds of the Earth's surface, yet little is understood about the ocean floor.

October 22 13 Comments

Colorado Backs Away From Pot Edibles Ban

Critics say a ban would violate the state's voter-approved legalization of recreational marijuana, which took effect in January.

October 22 4 Comments

Modest Raise For Social Security Recipients

Economist Diane Swonk says the 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase falls short of the inflation older Americans actually see.