The Internet of Things – all those connected objects and devices, and the vast data they produce – is giving way to the “Internet of People.” Big Data is allowing digitized humanity in the form of the growing network of predictive models describing what people have done, are doing, and are likely to do. Each of us is becoming a mathematical construct that others study to make better decisions about you. No one can yet model the way you think, but we are getting better and better predictions of how you will behave.

How can this be? Scientists and philosophers alike agree that humanity is not easy to define. But according to Oxford University researchers, two uniquely human characteristics are advanced planning and decision-making. As a data scientist, I see a great deal of overlap between predictive analytics and these two areas. So is it therefore possible to create a mathematical model of “humanity”? Can we infuse that model with enough data about decision-making to create an algorithm that can reliably predict our decisions?

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