Predicting the Future

Predicting the Future

I am certain that many of you, just like me, have wished that you could predict the future at some point in your life. Whether it be to know what questions will be in an exam paper, to win the lottery, or to simply to put an ease one of your worries, there is something innately reassuring in knowing what is to come. Satisfying this desire is big business. From the psychics, to seers and weathermen of days gone by, there have been many claiming to have mystical powers which have given them ‘the eye’ and the ability to see into our futures. Unfortunately, more often than not, their predictions turn out to be unreliable and no more useful than a rain dance.

Finally, things are changing, and thanks to technology, forecasts are becoming noticeably more reliable. It started with the weather. Improvements in satellite imaging and computer modelling have made our weather forecasts more reliable than ever. Even in the unpredictable UK, you can now trust a weather forecast for up to a week ahead with reasonable confidence. In the same way the weather forecasts were improved by inputting more information from satellite imagery, human behaviour forecasts are being improved by inputting more data collected from our everyday habits. In the digital world we live in, almost everything you do is monitored and recorded as some form of data. All this information is then fed into an algorithm which identifies hidden patterns. This process is commonly referred to as big data analytics.

Big Data is not particularly new, and has been a buzz word for a few years now. Thanks to the recent breakthroughs in AI, I think big data is about to become more important and more useful than ever before. For many years we have been collecting and storing data without being about to efficiently use it. The problem is that most data is not structured in a format that is compatible to be used in current algorithms. When a large volume of data is stored in its natural format we refer to it as a ‘Data Lake’. The advent of complex AI that can make sense of these data lakes means we are on the brink of unlocking a huge swathe of previously useless data.

The use of big data analysis can be applied to almost anything. A notable example is the police and intelligence services are turning to ‘big data’ to identify patterns that could help them solve crimes, and some experts believe big data might be able to help predict crime too. It’s funny to think that the futuristic Crime Prevention Unit depicted in Minority Report might actually be closer to the truth than we ever realised.

I really do think that big data has huge potential to be used to improve many aspects everyday life. The google traffic reports, for example, is an excellent case of big data being used for good. However, we must be wary and remember that the data that we use to feed these tools is our own, personal information. In the wrong hands, the data could be used for as much bad, as good, and so it is imperative that companies an corporations take the responsibility of handling such data seriously.

On a side note if you are interested in prediction techniques and blockchain technology, Augur are attempting to set up a prediction platform using crowd predictions. You can find out more at

Christopher Braithwaite

Author: Christopher Braithwaite

The founder of TMTalks, Christopher, is based in the United Kingdom and writes for the site in his free time. Particular areas of interest include Space, energy, cyber security and block-chain technology.

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