Plenty of hay has been made over which apps and cell phones track our movements, but so far it has been difficult to accurately determine where we're going next -- people can be unpredictable, after all, and make dinner plans at random new places on a whim. In that case, what's a prediction algorithm to do?
When we feel there's a situation out of our control, we often fall back on superstition to account for it. ("Nothing else is working, why not blame it on that black cat?") But when enough of us rely on superstition, it's not just an individual comfort; it starts to have real repercussions. Now a designer has created an algorithm trades stock superstitiously, and it's going to see if gambling based on full moons and thirteens can pay off.
The WikiLeaks info-dumps, as a lot of the public realized as they started to be released, contained a whole lot of info--both genuine nuggets of military action and wartime marginalia. But by cataloguing all of the events logged in the WikiLeaks Afghan War Diary--91,000 reports from 2004 to 2010--researchers from the University of Edinburg have been able to accurately map the past of the conflict, which could lead to predicting the conflict into the future.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the saying goes, and a new algorithm will test that formula by predicting what will be wrong with a patient in the future, based on his or her past — and that of everyone else.
It's been nearly a year since the beginning of a bloody uprising in Syria that has taken thousands of lives, both military and civilian. Just how many? Depends on whom you ask.
A trustworthy death toll is needed, to place the conflict in context, and document the crisis for present and future reckoning. But accounting for the dead has been difficult, due to a lock-tight government crackdown, ongoing violence and even political ideology. A collection of volunteer groups is trying to bring clarity to the conflict, however. By combining social media and crowdsourced data with automation and algorithms, Syrian casualty trackers are moving toward the realm of activist data mining.