You’re thinking about ice cream, and you suddenly get a Ben & Jerry’s notification on your phone. That new song you heard in the coffee shop was a little catchy, and now Spotify is offering you that same song. It seems like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reading your mind, but it goes a lot deeper than that.
Tracking Your Location
Specific programs can track your location through your phone via GPS or Wi-Fi. They note your site and send you ads for nearby shops. This practice is called geofencing, and if you’ve played or encountered Pokemon Go, it uses similar technology, albeit for different ends. You’ll need to turn on your phone’s location permission so that the system can see you — and if you want out, all you have to do is turn your permissions off. Geofencing defines several areas, allowing specific programs to react accordingly. Walking past a pizza place can trigger a notification for pizza, and walking near a cinema can trigger a notification regarding screening times. Most of these areas are typically outdoors, and indoor mapping will usually require your Bluetooth to be turned on. Hikers have been using geocaching (an earlier form of geotracking) for almost a decade to hide “treasures” in millions of places around the world, but the technology is now being used in marketing and information dissemination.
Predicting Your Preferences
Netflix keeps a record of what shows you watch, and Spotify does the same for songs. Online stores using basic algorithms even push products you would probably buy by informing you that other buyers bought two products together. Programs can determine patterns and surmise that people that like the same type of product (film, song, or item) also like similar things. These programs take information from a group to determine the preferences of individuals. Some algorithms not only take note of your purchases; they also take note of the time and date you purchased your items. Specific algorithms can predict if you’re running out of milk or if someone in the house is having her period. Of course, part of the success of AI in predicting your behavior is a coincidence. You tend to disregard all the notifications that didn’t make sense, but when a notification hits the mark, it makes an impression.
If you have a social media account and make online purchases, you’re already sacrificing much of your privacy to stay connected and for convenience. Information leaks are a real problem, but modern systems are designed to minimize risks and keep your data safe. If you don’t want to be bothered, all you need to do is turn off your phone’s location services — or better yet, turn off your phone. However, letting AI have some of your information allows it to tailor its services to meet your mental demands.
AI can’t read your mind, but it has a pretty good idea on what you like and what you spend money on. You can let it be your assistant or turn it off for privacy. Welcome to the Experience Age, where information is used to further the human experience.