The way we use the Internet is beginning to reveal human behavior patterns on a previously unimaginable scale.
January 31, 2017 by Emerging Technology from the arXiv
In 1995, some 40 million people all over the world were connected to the Internet. By 2000 that had grown to around 400 million, and by 2016 it reached 3.5 billion. That means almost half the global population is connected to a single technology.
That’s an extraordinary statistic and one that raises an interesting possibility. With so many people connected in this way, it should become possible to use this technology as a kind of demographic sensor that measures human behavior on an almost unimaginable scale.
Today, Klaus Ackermann at the University of Chicago and a couple of pals say they have done just this by studying how devices connected to, and disconnected from, the Internet between 2006 and 2013. They have done this on a global scale at a time resolution of every 15 minutes to produce a truly mind-boggling number of observations—one trillion of them.