I want to make a prediction, and time-stamp it with my squarespace blog right here. The amount of data gathered about each one of us is going to be staggering, it kindof already is. But....rather than creepy surveillance to simply present more desirable products to us or conveniently anticipate our up-to-the moment need "OK google!", "Alexa buy me more batteries!". It's going to be surprisingly good. It's going to be I-cannot-imagine-living-without-it good. And this will come soon, within 5 years soon.
I'm not discounting the NSA and global surveillance of individuals under the guise of tracking terrorist activity, and then hanging onto all that metadata for future dissection. That is a problem.
I'm talking about all the micro-activities that make up our day. Who did you talk to, meet with, where did you go, what did you spend, eat, do, sleep, speak, breathe....and oh, how's your microbiome doing? Recording facial micro-expressions from your web or device camera picks up like a little bit of stress, how's your cortisol level? Is your immune system getting hammered? Brain fog, what's slowing you down? Yeah, yeah...you've got your entire genome sequenced, but we know the expression of those genes (epigenetics) and the affect of your day-to-day environment and lifestyle (the stuff you do to yourself) means as much as the DNA you started with.
The surprise is that it will be easy. It will start with how people affect us. Are they toxic or a vitamin?
I predict we will casually use the data we know about us and the people around us to manipulate our body chemistry. The surprise is that it will be easy. It will start with how people affect us. The people we know and our connections will become like diet and exercise, we'll understand them in the way we know what makes up a balanced meal.
Human chemistry feels complicated, but the intricacies of relationships are ripe for machine learning. How do you feel about this person, how do they feel about you. How does their personality map to yours, what is the nature of the relationship, a lover, friend, family, co-worker ....everyone you deal with, worry about or have ever encountered. A great deal of human interaction can be patterned and captured in a very large AI system. It's coming.
You can tell it's beginning cause academic studies are verifying chunks of this idea. Your digital footprint is more accurate predicting your Big 5 personality assessment than your friends (sample size 86,000+), unsupervised machine learning using fictional relationships from literature and much of the work from Sandy Pentland and his graduate students at MIT.... here is just one characterizing reciprocity of friendship.
....as humans will we prefer the randomness and human intuition of assessing relationships?
If you're convinced we are ontrack to know a ton about relationships, and we will surely characterize it with models, network mathematics and even prediction algorithms. So much is known today, it's just not known by us as regular people. How might we consume perfect information about all the people we encounter. As humans will we prefer the randomness and human intuition of assessing relationships or will the machines do it for us?
We are social creatures, since pre-historic time we have been assessing who is a friend and who is an enemy, the champions of this have genetically survived better than humans who were bad at reading people. Our brain's default activity is mulling over our relationships. Rehashing our social lives is the brain's favorite downtime activity. Maybe we don't need any help, we got this one. But....
We are beginning to see many, many apps that are chipping away at the potential to know a whole lot more about the people who shape us, who we can rely on, what is their bias, their priority, will they reciprocate? Not just what you can find when you google or track someone down on Linkedin. CrystalKnows will help you craft better communication, Shapr will introduce me to people Tinder fashion who share my ideas, and emotion recognition like Affectiva is getting embedded in the apps and games we love.
We already use social networks like a life-long rolodex, the obsessive of us 'curate' our feed by specifying who is a close friend, who we keep an eye on and who we hide or unfollow. What we will come to know is how people shape us, right down to the methalaytion of our DNA and direct effect on our mood and stress. We don't need everyone we meet to be super-sweet, I bet the right formula is a mix of slightly acidic questioning people who make us think and others who act like a vitamin boost. Every now and then you need to meet one of those "I-learned-a-lesson" people. Maybe after a few generations, we'll document mathematical patterns for the right relationship-mix during adolescence and another type to shape us as early adults.
But know that proper dosage of our friends will get served up to us in easy-to-consume social networks. Who we encounter may not be so random. Remember when facebook let you remove all traces of your ex? I bet we'll be able to grab the mix of people we hang out with like a shopping cart of kale and grilled salmon.
I'm kindof excited about this, everytime I'm completely flummoxed by mis-reading someone or not understanding why I didn't get an email returned, I think....in the future I'll understand it all.