Humans are predictable sorts. While we’re all slightly different, our biology and similarity of experience on the planet conspire to make us more like each other than not. The 2010 French movie Babies showed us that infants from the Mongolian Steppes, African bush, Tokyo and San Francisco all progress in nearly the same way, at the same rates. Does that surprise you? It surprised us.
Professionals are aware of this. But until recent times, precision in predicting how people will behave was a challenge. There wasn’t enough data or enough technology to give data the inspection it needed. Instead, scientists conducted studies and marketers set up focus groups. It was all about getting the right ‘sample’ size and makeup.
Shooting fish in a barrel is a great metaphor for what’s changed. Big Data gives us the ability to process increasingly large volumes of preference and behavioral data, not from studies, but from real people. The more data, the more patterns of similarity emerge. The more refined the patterns, the greater the likelihood that a person’s likes, dislikes, and future actions can be predicted.
We can hit the target every time.
Is it too easy?
So when we agree to give people our information, we’re giving them the power to predict exactly how we’ll respond. We’re giving up, in a real, scientifically proven way, our free will. How many people realize this when they allow a cookie on their computer, or turn on geo location on their phone? How many people are targeted because of extraneous detail that makes them an ‘easy shot’?
When our preference for movies demonstrates our politics, Netflix is the new campaign bumper sticker.
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