Technology has now become an instrumental part of our everyday lives. In the past 20 years innovation has sparked different sectors of the technological industry. One of these industries that has lifted off as one of most popular technological platforms is social media. Social Media has created a mirrored culture of how to live our everyday lives on the internet. This platform allows the user to reflect personal thoughts into language and then broadcast that information to the entire world. Patrick Tucker, a writer, editor and futurist has been on the cutting edge of understanding the implications of technology and social media. Tucker states that “between checking your phone, using GPS, sending e-mail, tweets, and Facebook posts, and especially streaming movies and music, you create 1.8 million megabytes a year. It’s enough to fill nine CD-ROMS every day”(Tucker, 2016). All of this ‘Big Data’ is being stored, shared and distributed to create a unique digital profile for each technology user. This digital profile is provided to multinational corporations, which then use this information to ‘micro-target’ individuals via the internet.
On September 26, 2016, the American Marketing Association published an article that highlighted the these big three marketing tactics. Bruce Newman, a professor of marketing at DePaul University added “microtargeting, social media and Big Data, which he calls the “strategic triad”(Conick, 2016). There has been numerous professors, scientists and futurists all working on the idea of predicting the future via our internet habits. In 2003, Daniel Ashbrook and Thad Starner of the Georgia Institute of Technology published a study called “Using GPS to Learn Significant Locations and Predict Movement Across Multiple Users.” In their introduction is discusses how “location is the most common form of context used by these agents to determine the user’s task”(Starner & Ashbrook, 2003). The user is this case being the consumer of technology with a global positioning system device. Another two individuals that have conducted very interesting research on this particular matter is Adam Sadilek, who is a professor of computer science at the University of Rochester and John Krumm who is a researcher at Microsoft. In their research paper, Far Out: Predicting Long-Term Human Mobility, Sadilek and Krumm state concrete evidence to argue that “it is possible to predict location of a wide variety of hundreds of subjects even years into the future and with high accuracy”(Sadilek & Krumm, 2012).
This stunning information has now shaped the future of technological clairvoyance. There has been countless news stories across the globe that focus on this new phenomenon. WMUR 9, a local news station located in New Hampshire reported that it took police less than a few hours to track a stolen vehicle. The stolen vehicle was found by police using a GPS tracking system within the computer system. These computer systems are in our hands, in our vehicles and all around us are making it impossible to avoid constant monitoring. Another example that touches on this constant monitoring system is police seeking amazon echo data in a murder case. On December 28th, 2016 James Bates is accused of strangling his co-worker to death. Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith is requesting Amazon to provide police with voice ‘data’ from their smart speaker. Amazon agreed to provide police with Bates’s personal data but did not share voice ‘data’. The murder case is still under investigation and Amazon is still unwilling to provide essential evidence to authorities. These troubling news stories, provide in depth insight to the world’s technological clairvoyance. At this rate, our ‘big brother’ already knows our specific location. It will only take a little technological innovation to predict a human’s habits and locations with pin point accuracy. Technological clairvoyance is coming for you!
Author: Will Sudbay (University of Vermont) – junior at the University of Vermont with an interest in politics, social media, and hiking around New England.
Advisor: Rob Williams, Ph.D. (University of Vermont); Professor of Media/Communications.
(2016, January 18). Retrieved April 06, 2017, from Patrick Tucker’s web site.
(2014, April 2). WMUR9. GPS technology helps police track down stolen vehicle in New Hampshire. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Conick, H. (2016, September 26). American Marketing Association. How Social Media, Microtargeting and Big Data Revolutionized Political Marketing. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
McLaughlin, E. (2016, December 28). CNN. Amazon pushes back on prosecutor’s request for Alexa smart speaker info – CNN.com. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
Sadilek, Adam, and John Krumm. “Far Out: Predicting Long-Term Human Mobility.” (2012): n. pag. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Starner, T., & Ashbrook, D. (2003). Using GPS to learn significant locations and predict movement across multiple users. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing,7(5). Retrieved April 10, 2017.