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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Social Physics: Post #3--Big Data

Big Data: We all leave increasingly larger digital “breadcrumbs” behind us as we wander through the digital forest—GPS, credit card info, Facebook posts, and more, much more. Better ways of collecting an immense volume of data are emerging, and Pentland’s MIT teams of doctoral students are scooping up those crumbs, analyzing them and developing a robust theory of how humans behave called “reality mining.” Correlations among the data can predict patterns of illness spread in a population or financial trends and crashes, all by studying “living laboratories” of real people, in real time, with real reactions. Collecting zillions of data sets for the past decade—balanced with a rigorous privacy policy—Pentland’s teams have been able to place society under a “socioscope” to study its social DNA.

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