Submitted by Kevin Cafferky, Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center and Affiliates

On Friday morning, December 12th, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Author event with Stephen Baker, author of The Numerati at The Free Library of Philadelphia. Mr. Baker discussed with us the incredible amounts of data that we produce each and every day through websites visited, search engine usage, credit card usage and cell phones. Certain people, who the the author calls The Numerati (scientists and mathematicians), dig through all of that data to define us and predict our purchasing patterns, medical histories, voting patterns and even potential for being a terrorist. Mr. Baker used Netflix as an example of utilization of data.  Netflix, the online dvd rental website, uses past movie rental history to predict future movies that we would enjoy. The amazing thing is that in many instances they are right! But the author also pointed out that there may be commonalities, like purchasing patterns, drawn out of the collected data that make us seem similar to others.  However, in reality, these similarities are only superficial–outside factors influence one person’s decision making and have absolutely nothing to do with someone else’s decision to purchase a similar item. It is staggering to think of the amount of data that we produce about ourselves each and every day in the public domain. As we have learned from Steven Baker, this will only be used more and more in the future to forecast our actions and predict outcomes.

Click here to view more pics of the event.