Big Data Project Susses Us out

Scientific American

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What best helps you cope with stress? What happens to you when you die? If you could enhance the DNA of your unborn child, what would you improve?

For the past two months, a project called the “ Human Face of Big Data” has been asking smart-phone users these and dozens of other questions.

The project’s goal is to aggregate millions of responses worldwide and see if they provide any insights into our beliefs, rituals and attitudes. More than three million smart-phone users across 100 countries have responded.

While not terribly surprising, some of the results released December 4 are interesting.

Men were more likely to want to boost their unborn child’s intelligence, but women thought the child’s health more important. Older respondents are more likely to relieve stress through work or prayer, while younger people de-stress through music and the arts or friends and family. People between 20 and 50 are more inclined to believe that death is the end of the line. But those under 20 and over 50 are most likely to believe in an afterlife in heaven or hell. One that probably includes their smart phones.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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