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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.”


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  • Stan

    Sounds like a perfect way to track the “herd”.
    So who is in the end this “God” with the eye of the behaviors of humans?
    What a convenient way for the Feds to keep an eye on a populace that gets to unruly or unhappy about the government.
    Many cellphones contain a GPS chip, so tracking the movements of the user is established there. What’s next?
    The RFID chip implanted in humans. The ultimate tracking tool and more.
    Reminds me of these sentences from  Jim Redden, author of Snitch Culture: How Citizens Are Turned Into the Eyes and Ears of the State  “There is no war on crime. There is no war on drugs, no war on terrorism. There is only the ongoing effort by the federal government to collect as much information on as many people as possible.”

  • Steve

    Possibly this is the end result that the corporate sector and government will desire of its sheep.

    “There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”Aldous Huxley’s lecture to The California Medical School in San Francisco in 1961

  • Ed21

    Humans continue to be guinea pigs on a daily basis being exposed to a wide array of electromagnetic waves from cell phone towers, their cell phones, microwave ovens, police radio, etc.
    NASA has a program of using low-power microwaves.http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread59991/pg1Let's not forget those past programs of the CIA’s MK-ULTRA of the sixties which Dr. Jose Delgado and Dr Louis Joylan West who mastered a technology called “RHIC-EDOM.” RHIC means “Radio Hypnotic Intracerebral Control”, and EDOM means “Electronic Dissolution Of Memory.”
    Let’s not forget those past programs of the CIA’s MK-ULTRA of the sixties which Dr. Jose Delgado and Dr Louis Joylan West who mastered a technology called “RHIC-EDOM.” RHIC means “Radio Hypnotic Intracerebral Control”, and EDOM means “Electronic Dissolution Of Memory.”
    The sky is the limit with each succeeding stage here. Big Brother is here.
    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.  George Orwell

  • PS Frog

    I’d be interested to know if the professor did any research on who was most likely to “opt-in” to being “tracked”? 

  • Richard Whiteford

    So who needs advertising agencies? Just talk to you customers. Wow what a concept!

  • Josephhugheyster

    Both the host and guest of this otherwise good program need to make the distinction between type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, and type 2 diabetes which is associated with obesity. My daughter’s type 1 diabetes is not a “behavior-based disease.” Not making this distinction is not only incorrect, it is insulting and does not serve those with type 1 or type 2  diabetes. To learn more, go to http://www.jdrf.org

  • Josephhugheyster

    Both the host and guest need henceforth make the distinction between type  1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, and type 2 diabetes, a disease that is associated with obesity. Not making the distinction is both incorrect and and insulting, and does not serve well those with either disorder. 

  • kt

    How long before health insurance companies track what restaurants you eat in to determine your health risk aka your premium rates?

  • Robin Young

    ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH

    Regarding the distinction in diabetes, I’m so sorry! I had a fleeting thought to say that and it fled. Thank you so much for making the distinction for us.

    Best
    Robin 

  • DataDiva

    When did “Big Brother” get changed to “eye of God”? I bet few students who voluntarily opted-in have read the book 1984. 

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

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