There's no denying that the world is spinning at a precarious speed. 90% of the world's data has been created in the past two years alone. Just several years before that, the term "Big Data" was shrouded in obscurity and ambiguity. Now numerous Big Data mining techniques have been discovered, explored, exploited, and evolved upon. Companies now have to struggle to stand out from the masses that have undertaken Big Data initiatives.
There's a new hot phrase in the data universe: "predictive analysis." It used to be limited simply to certain forward- thinking companies like Amazon who could suggest products to you based on the data of your past purchases. Now, predictive analytics and algorithms, called "anticipatory computing" are gaining traction.
Foursquare, for example, is using predictive models to revolutionize their location-monitoring/management business model. Now, your Foursquare application doesn't just tell you where you are, but also tells you where to go with personalized notifications based on previous behavioral patterns. It can generate push notifications detailing everything from what recommended restaurants are nearby to what items on your To-Do List can be completed within your vicinity.
Amazon has just filed for an "anticipatory shipping" patent, a system based on predictive algorithms that allows them to package, label, and prepare for shipping certain products that they think you will need- perhaps before even you know yourself.
Expect Labs has created an iPad application called MindMeld that listens in on your conference calls and feeds you real-time information relevant to the subjects that you're talking about. For example, if you're video-calling with your colleagues and you're discussing a future meeting with a big client, the application will feed all of you relevant information in real-time about the company such as their Wikipedia page, their publicly available financial data, etc.
How Did This Happen?
The internet of things has led to this. The combination of embedded sensors, location-tracking systems, wearable devices, and smart homes/offices has allowed us to aggregate enough data about ourselves that its analysis is perfectly capable of predicting our future behaviors.
All of this likely sounds useful but creepy, and the good news is that on a personal level your participation is entirely your choice. You can try out the new Foursquare features and love them, or you can accept that they're just not for you. The point is not to drown your world in technology- it's to give you the option to make your smart device an extension of your own mind combined with the intelligence of the universe of available data.