The Naked Future: What Happens in a World that Anticipates Your Every Move?

March 8, 2014
Author:
Patrick Tucker
Publisher:
Penguin (2014)

“Patrick Tucker’s thought-provoking, eye-opening, and highly entertaining book The Naked Future skillfully illustrates how the intelligent analysis of big data is allowing us to see into the future with ever-increasing precision.” — Ray Kurzweil

Right now the power of big data is in the hands of those mega-institutions inside the cryptic vaults of the NSA, the pioneers of Silicon Valley, and at the fingertips of Madison Avenue. But in the future, argues Patrick Tucker, that balance of power is due to shift in favor of us, the individual that logs all that data they’ve been busy mining.

Every tweet, Fitbit goal, and Tinder match we report on our mobile devices is the property of the individual first and that’s a powerful tool to have. In The Naked Future: What Happens in a World that Anticipates Your Every Move?, Tucker investigates how data collected from smartphones, GPS systems, emails, tweets, Facebook posts, and even music and movie downloads is historically transforming our lives. Soon the power to mine that data will be ours, and the payoff will be apps that anticipate our needs and desires.

Tucker argues that as we collect more information about ourselves, and the level of computing power in our handheld devices continues to rise exponentially, we’ll soon be able to use that data to stay healthy, invest our savings more wisely, learn faster and more efficiently, buy a house in the right neighborhood at the right time, avoid crime, thwart terrorists, and mitigate the consequences of natural disasters. If that sounds far fetched, you’ll be surprised to learn that it isn’t.

The ramification of “Big Data”— data moving and a growing network of sensors and information collecting software programs — is often regarded as menacing and an invasion of privacy from those large corporate institutions and government. But Tucker argues that personal data is nothing less than a superpower waiting to be harnessed. The worst possible mistake that society can make is to demand that technological progress reverse itself by trying to avoid its power. A better solution is to familiarize ourselves with how these tools work, and also come to understand how these tools can be abused.

Computer scientist Stephen Wolfram, and futurist Ray Kurzweil have famously painstakingly recorded every minute detail of their lives, from their diets to the keystrokes, in order to quantify and better their lives. Now, technology has made self-quantification easier than ever, allowing the “everyman” to record and study their habits just as Wolfram and Kurzweil have done, but with less hassle.

(credit: Patrick Tucker)

“Very few people keep track of how they react to little stressors,” Tucker writes. “The costs of keeping such a record, in terms of inconvenience, are too high. Yet hidden in those interactions may be powerful clues to our future health. If it were easy and cheap to keep that data around, and if we were able to make sense of it quickly, we would surely keep a log of how stressed we felt at any moment.”

So what happens in a future that anticipates your every move? The machines may have a better handle on us than ever, but we’ll live better as a result.  The naked future is upon us, and the implications for how we live and work are staggering.


Praise for The Naked Future:

“Contemplating the future — the very, very near future — of Big Data is by turns terrifying and exhilarating. Patrick Tucker captures both extremes and everything in between in this thorough yet thoroughly digestible book on the ubiquity of data gathering and the unraveling of personal privacy. This is a book powered by big ideas and enriched by expert storytelling.” — Daniel Pink, author of To Sell Is Human and Drive

“Any American who doesn’t understand what big data has to do with everyday existence should read this book today. What’s at stake in The Naked Future is nothing short of free will itself.” Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

“The Naked Future unveils a plausible future that is at once thought-provoking and rather unsettling. It seems inescapable.” — Vint Cerf, internet pioneer

“A fantastic romp through the data-drenched world that is just around the corner. Patrick Tucker spots the trends shaping society and business, and tells the stories with verve and insight. The Naked Future exposes what we need to know about tomorrow’s world—to not be caught with our pants down!” — Kenneth Cukier, coauthor of Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

“In this fascinating and gripping book, Tucker illustrates how… predictive powers will tell us about our personal health before we know it and how that health will affect others, where and when a crime might happen and who might become a victim of a crime, and when you might fall in love.” — Publishers Weekly

“A well-written consideration of how, in the next two decades, we will be able to predict huge areas of the future with far greater accuracy than ever before in human history, including events long thought to be beyond the realm of human interference.” —- Kirkus Reviews