Today, Ubisoft revealed Predictive World, an online experience that reveals what a powerful, all-seeing algorithm can predict about an individual based on their online footprints, public information and Facebook Likes.
A World of Data
Every day, we create 2.5 billion gigabytes of data, from our last purchase online to our likes on social media platforms. Nowadays, most recruiters scrutinize our social networks before even looking at our resumes. When we apply for a loan to our bank, its acceptance is assessed depending on our private health data. And in some US cities, the police can apprehend individuals based on algorithms that can predict their criminal potential thanks to data such as age, ethnicity, gender and social background.
The dangers of Big Data and predictive algorithms are themes at the heart of the narrative of Ubisoft’s upcoming open world action-adventure game WATCH_DOGS 2. The hero Marcus Holloway is wrongly profiled as a potential criminal by a city-wide operating system collecting & analysing data on every citizen.
When Fiction meets Reality
Predictive World and WATCH_DOGS 2 are strong reminders that in today’s ultra-connected world, the systematic collection and processing of private data on a massive scale marks a new step in an era of rising surveillance and might represent a threat to personal freedom. Similarly to what happens in WATCH_DOGS 2, Predictive World lets users imagine how corporations, governments, or criminals could use their personal data against them, and help players understand the context of the game.
Predictive World has been built based on an algorithm developed by the Psychometrics Centre of the University of Cambridge, using a wide range of verified data sources such as psychological and social media data from over 6 million research participants, and a bespoke infrastructure designed for this project containing 6.4 billion data points. Collecting and processing users’ digital footprints and combining predictions with large amounts of open data, the system is able to make more than 60 predictions about the individual, from personality traits and intelligence to life expectancy and even financial risk propensity.
An interactive innovative experience
This dynamic and adaptable experience makes tangible the relationship between gender and salary, between city location and risk of being a victim of homicide. More importantly, users can interact with the predictions, change outcomes and understand the relationship between the different variables. By providing unexpected insights across many areas of life, Predictive World gives a glimpse of the power of data and how anyone having access to it can build accurate profiles of individuals.
To go even further, VICE released “User Profiled”, a series of documentary videos sponsored by Ubisoft with the purpose of educating and giving an in-depth look at the dangers of Big Data in today’s society. You can watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the documentary online.
To try Predictive World and see what your digital footprints reveal about you, visit: watchdogs.com/predictiveworld .