Count Your Everything

We thought a world gone mad would feature fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, 40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

Looks like it might be lots of people, I don’t know, counting.

We’re only a month into 2013, and already predictive analytics is getting more coverage than the beginning of President Obama’s new term. Some of that is because IBM keeps running this commercial. But here are two examples to show just how fashionable and wide-ranging analytics has become: gambling and relationships.

The Verge has run a long piece about the current technology measures that major casinos use to catch cheaters. Turns out, the number one security measure is still just thousands of CCTV cameras recording everything 24/7. That’s a lot of data. According to the article:

An alert human might spot…collusion, but even better, video analytics might flag the scene for further review. The valuable trend in surveillance, Whiting says, is toward this data-driven analysis (even when much of the job still involves old-fashioned gumshoe work). “It’s the data,” he says, “And cameras now are data. So it’s all data. It’s just learning to understand that data is important.”

As for relationships, you might have to read this Huffington Post piece yourself to believe it, but basically it involves tracking your significant other’s food intake, sleep quality, weight changes, orgasm frequency, and other data points to predict and alter each other’s bad moods. According to this article:

Even more than discovering hidden secrets, the data is actually just providing a tool for communication,” said Hedman. “When we’re talking about a graph – about data and numbers, not personal opinions – we can be more honest with each other. It’s less accusing. It removes the personal feelings.

This quote is not present in the article, but should be:

Relationships analytics seems pretty creepy, controlling, and self-obsessive, and I’d rather be caught cheating at a gambling table back when they used to break your legs than track my significant other’s weight and sleep cycles in the hope that we never say a cross word to each other.

Certainly predictive analytics has within it huge promise, even as many business are making huge promises about it. Its role in the decision-making process just needs to start getting more defined and validated. Because the data-collecting part is reaching the flood stage.

That’s right before the dogs and cats start living together.