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Automated Profiler

Technologies in the Film

Image credit: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

In the film, the future version of Marty was speaking with Douglas Needles about taking part in a shady business deal. While using the video caller to communicate with Needles, various pieces of information about Needle's began filling the screen. Information such as age, location, occupation, likes, dislikes, food preferences, and several other pieces of information appeared on screen for Marty. This same profile was displayed in the call for Marty's boss, Ito Fujitsu.

Current Technologies and Patents

A patent for an enhanced version of caller-ID has been  filed in earlier years that would also list geographical data as a form of identification along with the information already provided within caller ID [1]. Though the patent only states geographical location, the patent also implies users may sign up for the service to be later listed with more exact information, which could be expanded on to provide more information.

Google has also been developing a smarter caller identification within their mobile phone operating system that would be able to find business phone numbers near you when searching for them in contacts even when they do not exist in your contact list [2]. Though this isn't real time information during a call, easier access towards public business information is the goal of this mobile phone application.

Today, many social networking sites such as Facebook ask users to input data into their online profiles and use this information in tandem with geographical locations obtained from IP addresses, word counts from posts, and interactions with friends on the network to make intelligent conclusions about the users' personalities, hobbies, friends and family, intelligence, yearly salary, and even lists of possible passwords to their accounts and the probability of owning multiple financial accounts and access to cash and material possessions. Several websites today, such as Digital Shadow, provide automated Facebook-scouring services which can show the user just how much information big data-gatherers such as Facebook may know about the user [3].

Because professions such as those in the social sciences value large amounts of data on large numbers of people, even more research is being done today to connect users across multiple social networks, such as Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and use the aggregated information from these networks to build up massive, comprehensive profiles of the millions of collective users to be put into a database for conducting better social research [4]. By using the time at which users login, geographic locations of logins, and words commonly used, researchers have been able to very accurately match users across several social networks and create near-complete online profiles of Internet users.

Feasibility

With the growing popularity of social networking, the feasibility of integrating such a system within a video conference is very possible. Using several existing services that can track online profiles for users and displaying that information is no longer an impossible task, as profile searches can be done by anybody with relative ease. While integrating this type of system with face recognition software may be in question, if the name of the caller can be obtained along with a few basic facts about the caller, a real time profile could be generated while conferencing with others over the internet.

Sources

[1] http://www.google.com/patents/US5771283 (Accessed 21/4/2014)

[2] http://www.androidguys.com/2013/11/05/google-deta... (Accessed 21/4/2014)

[3] Ubisoft, Digital Shadow

[4] Taming Big Data Variety: From Social Networks to Brain Networks, Computer Science Colloquium at WPI (4/22/2014)