Top Health Tools
Top Health Tools

Top Reports
Top Reports
 
Top Articles
Top Articles

Top Reviews
Top Reviews
   
We're All Predictable


Do you think your spontaneous, free-spirited take on life makes your behaviour random and unpredictable? Albert-László Barabási takes a different view. Human behaviour, he argues, is predictable due to its "bursty" nature - long periods of low activity interspersed with bursts of high activity. By tracking our past behaviour, Barabási thinks we might be able to predict our future actions.

Bursts opens with the story of Hasan Elahi, an American artist whose work takes him around the globe. Elahi's erratic travel patterns set him apart from the crowd, making him an outlier and attracting the attention of the US Department of Homeland Security. Elahi is the first of many people we are introduced to who take us on "Einsteinian jumps through time and space". One minute Barabási is describing a gun seller who marks his dollar bills so that their movement can be tracked throughout the US, the next we are following Einstein's pattern of letter-writing.

As well as these specific examples, Barabási shows how bursty behaviour can be found everywhere, from online browsing to visits to the doctor. The reasons behind these bursts of activity may vary, but they don't make us any less predictable, he says.

Barabási concludes that we are all simultaneously bursty and quite regular; apparently random but deeply predictable. He foresees a future in which a "Vast Machine" follows our every move, cataloguing human behaviour. Perhaps the large amount of data this would collect will enable us to predict the future, but at what price?



May 6, 2010

Share/Bookmark
...............................................................................................................

This site is owned and operated by PreventDisease.com 1999-2017. All Rights Reserved. All content on this site may be copied, without permission, whether reproduced digitally or in print, provided copyright, reference and source information are intact and use is strictly for not-for-profit purposes. Please review our copyright policy for full details.
aaa
Interact
volunteerDonateWrite For Us
Stay Connected With Our Newsletter