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The Numerati takes us into the deep dark world of data mining, a world familiar to any fan of cyberpunk novels, although all too real. A world where stray pieces of information, perhaps revealed by yourself over the net, are enough for someone to narrow down your home address. A world where knowing your gender, your date of birth and your area code are enough in the developed world, for someone you met online, to track you to your front door.

This is the world we live in now. Semantic webs, data mining, pattern recognition, search engines, and databases. Stephen Baker, technology writer for Business Week, examines the connections in depth, showing just how easy it is to lose control of the data that is gathered about you, and how different sources can so easily - and increasingly are ? tied together to paint a crystal clear picture of who you are, without ever meeting you.

The rate of progress is tracked, and extrapolated. This book reveals just how close we are to the day when your spam mail knows you are pregnant, long before you do: your toilet having analysed your urine, and data mining extracted the information. It speaks of supermarket smart trolleys who know the name of the person who unlocks them from the rack, and knows already, the sort of thing they usually buy.

It speaks of healthcare insurance providers who immediately know exactly what is wrong with you, and implanted medical devices that will take care of it. In short, utopia and dystopia views of the very near future, all mixed together as one.


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