Investigating Social Mechanisms with Mobile Phones
Imagine an imaging chamber placed around an entire community. What if we could, with permission, record and display nearly every facet of behavior, communication, and social interaction among its members as they live their everyday life? This potential would afford rich insights into humanity - how societies operate, how real world relationships form and change over time, and how behavior and choices spread from one person to another. We could diagnose the health of a community, and of its individuals. We could even measure the effects of feeding this information back to them.
At the MIT Media Lab, we have built the beginnings of what we call “The Social MRI.” You don’t need a huge chamber – just a bunch of modern smartphones. Using our mobile sensing software, we transformed a residential community into a living laboratory for over 15 months. Many signals were collected from each participant, altogether comprising what is, to date, the richest real-world dataset of its kind. As part of our continuing research, we are developing new tools to realize "the quantified self", and architectures to do all of this from a user centric perspective – where individuals own their data, and privacy is embedded into the framework.
This talk will highlight surprising results from the study, introduce our open source tools developed for data collection, and discuss how the lessons learned could extend to improve the consumer and business worlds.