What The Data Miners Are Digging Up About You

The results might show that a midlevel manager is quietly leading an important group of colleagues - and that his boss is out of the loop. Maybe these two should switch jobs.

Health and Safety

Number-crunching techniques can look after your home life too. At the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology in the US, researchers have computers that monitor every one of a user's interactions - every keystroke and mouse click.

The idea is that by watching a person's speed, vocabulary and sentence complexity over time it is possible to pinpoint the onset of cognitive deterioration - like dementia or Alzheimer's - long before more noticeable symptoms emerge.

The management of whole nations increasingly depends on the numerati, and not just because of their role in political campaigns.

After the 9/11 attacks, the CIA made large investments in statistical techniques to track known terrorists and even predict future ones, and has relied heavily on such techniques ever since.

One of the first pieces of software brought in was NORA, originally developed to reveal and track cheats and criminals working or staying as customers in Las Vegas casinos.

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