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Politics & Current Affairs

Using Data, Can We Predict Everything?

The information revolution has created more data than ever before. By crunching that data, scientists want to predict crime trends, the spread of disease, market behavior and more.

What’s the Latest Development?

Science, government and private enterprise are asking if they can predict future events by creatively crunching massive amounts of data made available by you, the individual. As people post more and more information online, computers are getting better at extracting and analyzing data to predict crime rates, stock market fluctuations, the spread of disease, political elections, revolutions and more. Professor Johan Bollen, who developed a method of using Twitter to predict market changes, describes the information revolution as ‘a gold rush’.

What’s the Big Idea?

Whether consulting the Oracle at Delphi or a stale fortune cookie, predicting the future is one of our oldest desires (until, perhaps, we see what awaits us). Whether it’s the economy or a national election, recent studies have shown that our time’s most trusted soothsayer, the expert, rarely outperforms those making uneducated guesses: a dart-throwing monkey, for example. So can large-scale data analysis remove human error from prediction? Will governments and CEO be willing to accept the responsibility that accompanies knowing what’s to come.

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