Your future self already exists in the cloud

The Economist has a short but fascinating piece on the work of physicist Chaoming Song who creates mathematical models to predict your future location based on your mobile phone and online activity. His accuracy rarely drops below 80%.

Song Chaoming, for instance, is a researcher at Northeastern University in Boston. He is a physicist, but he moonlights as a social scientist. With that hat on he has devised an algorithm which can look at someone’s mobile-phone records and predict with an average of 93% accuracy where that person is at any moment of any day. Given most people’s regular habits (sleep, commute, work, commute, sleep), this might not seem too hard. What is impressive is that his accuracy was never lower than 80% for any of the 50,000 people he looked at.

If you think this sounds a little far-fetched the findings have already been published – one paper in Nature Physics and the other in Science.

Yes folks, we’re all unique. Just like everyone else.

Link to The Economist on Chaoming’s network echo location work.


  1. Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    This reminds me of the guy who bought a hundred packets of brillo pads just to confuse the people who scanned his shopping. His local supermarket had a fidelity card system to register all purchases and he did not want to be that predictable. Maybe we should all escape from our predicted futures every now and then!

  2. Phenmetrazine
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    So using a record of where people were during the day he can predict where people are likely to be during the day.

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