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Do You Know Where You’ll Be 285 Days From Now At 2 P.M.? These Data-Masters Do

daily alternative | alternative news - Do You Know Where You’ll Be 285 Days From Now At 2 P.M.? These Data-Masters Do

Would you like to know how crowded your drive to the beach will be in three weeks? Or where your ex will be on a Friday night next month so that you can avoid him?

Adam Sadilek, formerly of Microsoft, now a researcher at Google, and John Krumm, an engineer at Microsoft, were inspired by the question of predicting where people would be in the future and even led off with the query, “Where are you going to be 285 days from now at 2PM?” in their their paper, Far Out: Predicting Long-Term Human Mobility.

“At first glance,” the researchers told us, “it sounds like a very difficult problem.”

Sadilek, Krumm, and others have done a lot of research on predicting where a person might be in the immediate future–say, in an hour or two. Logically enough, it’s been found that a person’s previous location is a good clue for their next location. But as these models are extended into the future, they give poorer and poorer results. To guess with any accuracy where someone would be in 20 or 200 days would be more of a challenge. In order to do so, Sadilek and Krumm realized, they’d have to develop new techniques.

Using information from a pool of 300 volunteers in the Seattle metro area, Sadilek and Krumm gathered a mountain of location data. As the volunteers went about their daily lives–going to work, to the grocery store, out for a jog, even for transcontinental travel–each carried a GPS device much the same way they carried a cell phone. To further ensure accuracy, the researchers also installed GPS devices in commercial shuttles and transit vans that the volunteers used regularly, and the volunteers’ own vehicles. After collecting over 150 million location points, the researchers then had Far Out, the first system of its kind to predict long-term human mobility in a unified way, parse the data. Far Out didn’t even need to be told exactly what to look for–it automatically discovered regularities in the data.

“For example, it might notice that Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually about the same and fairly consistent from week to week,” the researchers told us. “Then when we ask about a future Tuesday or Thursday, the algorithm automatically produces a typical Tuesday/Thursday as a prediction.”

Salidek and Krumm were pleasantly surprised with the results. It turns out that no matter how spontaneous we think we are, humans are actually quite predictable in our movements, even over extended periods of time. Not only did Far Out predict with high accuracy the correct location of a wide variety of individuals, but it did so even years into the future.

When we asked how Far Out compensates for people who change jobs, cities, spouses or even just neighborhoods, the researchers said that the Far Out model adapts to new data. “If there is a sharp transition, such as a move to another city, the system notices there is a discrepancy between its predictions and actual data and adapts to the new patterns,” the researchers said. “Most people have only a few ‘revolutionary’ changes in the course of their lives, so Far Out isn’t caught off guard too often.”

For now Far Out is strictly a research project not yet available in commercial products or services. And although its focus currently is on the future whereabouts of single individuals, eventually, the researchers’ hope is that it can be applied to larger populations. This could be a boon to urban planners by leading to more accurate predictions about the spread of disease, traffic congestion, and the demand for electricity.

Marketers and advertisers, too, would relish the opportunity to target our future selves with ads like, “Need a haircut? In four days, you’ll be 100 yards from a salon that will have a $15 special.” On the social side, there could even be something like a Foursquare of the Future–who wouldn’t want to know where their friends (and enemies) will be for the rest of their lives…or at least for the next 285 days?

daily alternative | alternative news – Do You Know Where You’ll Be 285 Days From Now At 2 P.M.? These Data-Masters Do

via Do You Know Where You’ll Be 285 Days From Now At 2 P.M.? These Data-Masters Do

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Technology

Google Upgrades Digital Wallet to Pay by Facial Recognition

As we march steadily toward a cashless society, Google is naturally at the forefront of seeing it come to fruition as quickly as possible.

Despite the fact that several years ago Google had a major security scare with its first incarnation of the digital wallet smartphone app, which required a temporary shutdown, they are announcing a new system being tested which does not even require the smartphone at all.

A growing number of people apparently find that having to remove their smartphone is just such a hassle that they are prepared to embrace payment via biometrics – in this case, facial recognition.

As a perfect indicator of the target market, please read this sad quote:

“Imagine if you could rush through a drive-thru without reaching for your wallet, or pick up a hot dog at the ballpark without fumbling to pass coins or your credit card to the cashier,” Bhat said. (Source)

In one sentence, that quote might represent literally everything that is wrong with modern society.

The new system is being cleverly called Hands Free; and, as the second indicator of its potential mass appeal, it will be rolled out first at McDonald’s and Papa John’s fast food restaurants.

A second more serious component to this ties in with the recent rollout of citywide WiFi systems that keep people connected at all times. Layered on top of that is the arrival of billboards with hidden cameras built in that can film you, then track you through your mobile phone. This reality makes the following information more chilling than convenient:

The digital wallet uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections alone [sic] with location sensing capabilities in smartphones to detect when someone is near a store enabled with Hands Free payment technology.

“When you’re ready to pay, you can simply tell the cashier, ‘I’ll pay with Google,’” Bhat said.

“The cashier will ask for your initials and use the picture you added to your Hands Free profile to confirm your identity.”

At some locations, Google is experimented [sic] with using cameras in stores to recognize people with Hands Free digital wallets so they could pay without even pausing. (emphasis added)

The number of people already prepared to accept this system numbers in the millions, according to Google.

Although this announcement would appear to border on satire, please view the videos below to get an idea about a world where cash is seen as a major annoyance, and laziness is embraced as a virtue.

 

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Google Upgrades Digital Wallet to Pay by Facial Recognition

via Google Upgrades Digital Wallet to Pay by Facial Recognition.

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