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An in-depth look at the future of the future.
An app on your phone knows you're getting married before you do. Your friends' tweets can help data scientists predict your location with astounding accuracy, even if you don't use Twitter. Soon, we'll be able to know how many kids in a kindergarten class will catch a cold once the first one gets sick.
We are on the threshold of a historic transition in our ability to predict aspects of the future with ever-increasing precision. Computer-aided forecasting is poised for rapid growth over the next ten years. The rise of big data will enable us to predict not only events like earthquakes or epidemics, but also individual behavior.
Patrick Tucker explores the potential for abuse of predictive analytics as well as the benefits. Will we be able to predict guilt before a person commits a crime? Is it legal to quarantine someone 99 percent likely to have the superflu while they're still healthy? These questions matter, because the naked future will be upon us sooner than we realize.
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: In the film Minority Report (based on a Philip K. Dick novel), Tom Cruise works in a police unit that predicts murder, stopping killers before they're able to bring harm against their victims. But one of the overlooked features of the movie is its environment, a near-future full of ads personalized to each person. According to Patrick Tucker's The Naked Future: What Happens in a World that Anticipates Your Every Move?, that scenario has already arrived. Decisions made by governments, companies, and individuals are already based on learnings from predictive analytics. Big data can help curb climate change, isolate epidemics, prevent crime, and allocate resources during natural disasters. On the personal level, we can use data to understand our own health, our friends and family, and even the people we may fall in love with one day. If there's a central lesson to take from Tucker, a deputy editor of The Futurist magazine, it's not that we should resist the data points being collected about our lives, but simply to be mindful of them. "We want our apps to know us, to present customized answers to our problems and questions, but we don't care how they arrive at those solutions until there's a problem." To Tucker, the use and abuse of big data is inevitable, but we can take steps to understand exactly where it's going and how it affects us. The Naked Future is accessible (sometimes a little hokey, even), but Tucker has penned a big data book that can be understood by both technophiles and luddites alike. --Kevin NguyenAbout the Author:
PATRICK TUCKER is the deputy editor of The Futurist magazine, as well as director of communications for the World Future Society. His writing has appeared in The Sun (U.K.), Slate, MIT Technology Review, BBC Magazine, The Wilson Quarterly, John Hopkins Magazine, Encyclopedia Britannica online and The Utne Reader, as well as various other outlets. He's a frequent contributor to television shows and radio broadcasts and has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, BBC World Service, Voice of America, as well as dozens of other radio shows and television broadcasts. Tucker won the 2006 Barry Hannah Prize in short fiction and the 2006 Eugene Walter Award for the Novel. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
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