Before delving into the significance of having the power of a PC in a mobile device, please note that there are ways of getting around the obstacle that current smart phone hardware does not have the quad core chips that can perform to an acceptable level to run an operating system like Ubuntu Linux. In the first 3 minutes of the following video, a researcher explains an approach that gives us the technology right now:



Whichever approach is taken for getting PC power into a smartphone, the technology allows a large set of data to be recorded including texts, emails, IM’s, documents, calendar, GPS location, and web-browsing history. It seems obvious that all this data is valuable, but exactly how to use it is a little less obvious. In the video to the right, another researcher demonstrates how some of this data can be put to good use.


You may notice similarities between the LifeBrowser program in the above video and Facebook’s Timeline. The two do indeed have similarities, however Facebook’s Timeline does not currently employ any type of machine learning to analyze the data as LifeBrowser does.  Notice that, unlike the above video’s demo of LifeBrowser, if Facebook was to provide a backend similar to LifeBrowser, it could access a database containing information pertaining to large populations instead of just one individual.

One particular type of analysis of large samples of data is called predictive analytics. The prospect of analyzing the data belonging to large populations for predictive purposes is of particular interest to marketers, as is apparent from this New York Times article that  describes how Target Stores is able to predict with good accuracy which of it’s customers are pregnant using current technology tracking sales coupon, credit card, and gift registry use.


Predictive analysis has uses beyond personal use and marketing however. The United States Institute of Peace has publicly expressed its interest in the use of the technology to determine trends in social views as can be seen in the video to the left.

In conclusion, it is apparent that a smartphone that doubles as a PC is a very important societal changing piece of equipment with uses ranging first from simple communication and computational tasks to aiding personal memory and assisting in making personal decisions, and finally all the way to helping governments maintain world peace. It is true that there are ethical and privacy issues to contend with, but the technology is essentially here, the dependence individuals have on smartphones is already here, and the interest to mine and use the data collected is already here, so it seems that those ethical and privacy issues, while obviously needing some attention, are not tremendous hurdles.


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