In this June 2005 session from the O'Reilly Where 2005 Conference, Nathan Eagle talks about research conducted at the MIT Media Lab showing how publicly available data, from our mobile devices can be used to observe and predict the activities of individuals and groups.
Sophisticated statistical analysis was used to take the accumulated location and usage patterns from everyday mobile devices - like cellphones and PDAs - and make a startlingly accurate record of the users' activities, and even of the people and groups they associate with.
Eagle's research project used specially modified phones to collect this information but he tells how this kind of thing can be accomplished with data collected from off-the-shelf mobile devices of people who are unaware of the tracking.
For example, he describes a series of boxes which could be scattered around an area, such as a college campus or corporate office, to record the bluetooth ID numbers of devices which pass by. This data can then be correlated to analyze, for example, how areas of the facility are being used, and by whom.
Stay tuned for the the final minute of this 15 minute talk, when Eagle talks about the privacy dangers of this kind of analysis, which can be performed using data which is already being collected by service providers.
Nathan Eagle is a postdoctoral research associate at the MIT Media Lab, where he rhas focused on projects that span a variety of disciplines, from appropriate technology to artificial intelligence.
Eagle's industry experience includes engineering work at Boeing and NASA, consulting at several Silicon Valley startups, freelance journalism for Wired magazine, and, most recently, serving as a guest scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. His entrepreneurial experience includes co-founding SenseSix, OneCard, and participating in Stanford's Technology Ventures Program as a Mayfield Fellow.
Before joining the Media Lab, Eagle spent a year in Nepal as a Fulbright Scholar. He holds a Ph.D. from MIT and graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. in Management Science and Engineering, and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering.
This free podcast is from our Where Conference series.
Photo: Media Lab website