It’s true–There are SPIES everywhere! (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show).Your cell phone is tracking you, there are spies on Facebook and a tracking file has been found hidden inside iPhones. The true future of cell phone spying is being researched at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where an experiment is going on that is tracking 60 volunteer families living on campus, using their smartphones. The researchers are recording their movements, relationships, moods, health, calling habits and purchases.
Cell phone companies are already using these techniques to predict (based on the phone carriers of a customer’s friends) which people are most likely to defect to other carriers. Armed with this information, they can bombard their current customers (and their customers’ friends) with ads and discount offers. It’s hard to believe but it’s true: By analyzing people’s movements and calling patterns, during the last presidential election, scientists who don’t eavesdrop on conversations (which is illegal) were able to figure out when two people were conversing about politics. Using the same methodology, researchers can also detect flu symptoms, making them able to quell an outbreak before it spreads like wildfire within the close confines of the university (by advocating flu shots).
In the April 23rd edition of the Wall Street Journal, Robert Lee Hotz quotes MIT researcher Alex Pentland as saying, "Phones can know. People can get this god’s-eye view of human behavior." One thing CEOs want to know is how to pinpoint "influencers"–the people in a community who influence others, when it comes to choosing a cell carrier, voting, or getting vaccinated. Once they do this, they can go right to the source, then watch their message spread.
Hotz quotes Indiana University researcher Johan Bollen as saying, "We have always thought of individuals as being unpredictable. These regularities (in behavior) allow systems to learn much more about us as individuals than we would care for." He quotes Santa Fe researcher Nathan Eagle as saying, "We can quantify human movement on a scale that wasn’t possible before. I don’t think anyone has a handle on all the ramifications." To download a program that will reveal the data that your iPhone is secretly recording about YOUR movements, click here.
At our Dreamland Festival in June, we won’t ban cell phones, but we WILL ask you turn them off during the talks of some of the fascinating folks who will be sharing their latest adventures with you there!