Sunday, January 5, 2014


If you have not yet seen the movie Minority Report, I would highly recommend that you do. To give a 1 line gist – the movie is based on the premise that in the future we will be able to predict crimes and in turn police will be able to prevent crime even before it happened. Now rest of the movie is a typical sci-fi Hollywood movie that takes a lot of popcorn and soda to digest.

Minority Report

Now, Target (the retailer) has been in the news last week for managing to expose 40 million credit card details of its customers. To put things in perspective 40 million is 8 times the population of Singapore and roughly 3 times the population of Mumbai. Now, how we could have prevented it by not using Magnetic stripe credit cards and how rest of the world is far ahead of the US when it comes to core Banking and Credit Card security is beyond the scope of this blog post.

What I find interesting is – Target. It is the poster child of analytics. It is “THE” company that I site each time I try to convince my retail clients to invest in analytics. It is “THE” company that managed to successfully predict with a fair degree of accuracy which of its customers are pregnant. If you still have not read this article, I suggest, you stop whatever you are doing now, and go and read about it.

While what Target could achieve (with the limited datasets it has) is impressive. What is equally impressive (and downright scary) is – what the internet giants – Google, Facebook, Comcast and a spy agency that shall not be named can do with the kinds of datasets they are collecting.

If Target can predict pregnancy, I am sure with the datasets that Google and Facebook has, they can probably predict every instance of your life going forward (and with certain extrapolation) of all your future generations that are yet to be born. And then, the spy agency that shall not be named is out there building a precognition network, like the one envisioned in Minority Report.

And I am loving the fact that I am living in this period of history. Hold on to your seats people, we are up for an amazingly scary ride ahead!

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