Cellphone traces reveal our predictability

“We are all in one way or another boring,” says Albert-László Barabási at the Center for Complex Network Research at Northeastern University in Boston, who co-wrote the study. “Spontaneous individuals are largely absent from the population.”

Barabási and colleagues used three months’ worth of data from a cellphone network to track the cellphone towers each person’s phone connected to each hour of the day, revealing their approximate location. They conclude that regardless of whether a person typically remains close to home or roams far and wide, their movements are theoretically predictable as much as 93 per cent of the time.

“The most surprising thing to us is the lack of variability in predictability across the population, meaning that most all the users have same degree of predictability,” regardless of their gender, age, or language spoken, lead researcher Chaoming Song, a physics doctoral student at Northeastern University, told LiveScience.

“For us they are just like particles in a gas that move and interact with each other,” said Song.

Read more about the study and how it was done in an FAQ on Barabási’s webpage

Sources:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18554-cellphone-traces-reveal-youre-so-predictable.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35729527/
Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1177170

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